(Nairobi, Kenya – May 2020) Silafrica is making packaging roar yet again with the introduction of the Smart Crate Technology for Twiga Foods – a Kenyan company that sources, delivers and removes the barriers to quality produce from Kenyan farmers to retailers in urban areas. The Smart Crate will be the first-ever of its kind on the continent, and Silafrica is at the forefront as the first African-based leading sustainable packaging supplier to introduce this technology to its customers. The crates, made from 100% recycled plastic, represent a major milestone in line with the company’s commitment to a circular economy, and in creating responsible and sustainable solutions that respect the planet and its biodiversity.
The technology uses an integration of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) and Near-Field Communication (NFC), which use radio waves to send real-time data as the crate moves from one touchpoint to another. The crate will be frequently scanned at specific checkpoints within the course of its journey using the tags on the crates. It enables the farmers to conveniently key in information about the product with a single tap of their phone. Thereafter, they can follow the course of the produce’s journey from the pick-up point when it leaves their farm to the drop-off stage, when it reaches the vendors in the market, ensuring that they are actively involved throughout the process.
An upgrade to the regular crates would enable geolocation advantages as well. This will be vital for Twiga Foods when tracking the number of crates en-route, how much product is on transit, and how many trucks would be required to transport all the produce. The crates are then brought back for reuse afterwards. This offers operational and logistical advantages that will assist in minimizing post-harvest waste, offer efficient management of their distribution channels, and aid in utilizing their resources more efficiently for a more streamlined and sustainable approach to distribution.
Usually, when farmers produce the products, they need the means to transport them in safe secondary packaging that would ensure that their produce can reach the markets in the best quality possible. Silafrica’s Group Executive Director, Akshay Shah states, “The thought process behind the crates’ unique design will be able to prevent damage to the fresh farm produce, ensuring that it arrives to the end consumers safe and sound.”
For Silafrica, it is the commitment to create value for their customers from technology leadership, circular economy and performance delivery that is the motivation in adopting the Smart Crate technology. The recyclable crates are in line with Silafrica’s goal of creating a circular economy that protects the environment and makes intentional sustainable decisions that aim to minimize waste and conserve our limited resources in our environment. At the heart of the circular economy concept is the aim to keep materials in an infinite circular reuse and recycle flow with minimum waste of energy and water resources. It helps keep products in use while making sure that they are completely recyclable at the end of their lifecycle. This means that there is inherently no need for creating new secondary packaging every time the product is ready to be transported.
This is an important milestone for all of us because it relay’s the manufacturing industry’s dedication to actively take part in using the environment’s limited resources sustainably. The farm produce can arrive to our shops and homes in the best quality possible with minimal losses, which means a win-win for the farmers and consumers. The reusing, plus recycling, means that we are taking the necessary steps that will enable us to leave the environment better than we found it while gaining from its resources sustainably in the process.