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July 28, 2015
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UPS Logistics: Helps Deliver an Eco-Friendly Product with Biodegradable Food Service


Operating sustainably and providing customers with "green" food service products has always been at the core of Biodegradable Food Service LLC's (BFDS's) operations.

A privately held small business based in Oregon, the company manufactures and markets more than 45 environmentally friendly food service products under its TaterWare™ brand, including cutlery, plates and bowls.

Made from potato starch, TaterWare is bio-based, GMO-free, and durable enough to withstand the requirements of most food service applications. The company has come a long way from its humble beginnings marketing its products to small functions like weddings. It now sells TaterWare throughout the United States and parts of Canada to wholesalers, major hotel chains, and food retailers including Whole Foods Market®.

BFDS has always encouraged its customers to recycle its TaterWare cutlery via third-party organic collection programs, but found that third-party programs did not always properly break down its products. To take control of the issue, the company implemented a closed-loop recycling initiative that allows its partners to return used cutlery directly to BFDS for recycling. As part of the initiative, BFDS cooperated with many of its business customers, including Whole Foods, to install TaterWare recycling receptacles in their cafés, dining halls and lunchrooms.


BFDS needed a reverse logistics solution to make returning TaterWare cutlery to BFDS for recycling a convenient and cost-effective process for its partners.

A major challenge was determining the right packaging solution that would allow its partners to easily add used cutlery to its receptacles, and remove it for shipping back to BFDS for recycling. The packaging also needed to be durable enough to avoid being ripped by the pointy cutlery during shipping.

Kaye Morgan, UPS inside sales representative, has developed an intimate understanding of BFDS after years of helping the company manage its logistics. And with the most robust
returns portfolio in the industry, UPS was well-equipped to design a reverse logistics solution that met BFDS's standards.


Working together, Morgan and BFDS determined that the most convenient packaging option for partners like Whole Foods to handle would be a bag, rather than a box. However, they needed a bag strong enough to withstand pokes during shipping from the sturdy edges of TaterWare forks, knives and spoons.

Morgan and BFDS began searching for a bag that was both cost-effective and durable enough to withstand the shipping process. Once BFDS zeroed in on a vendor that could produce bags to its specifications and desired quantity, it tested the bag with a shipment of 5,000 TaterWare forks to Morgan. After a few tweaks to thicken the bag, BFDS had identified the ideal packaging for its cutlery recycling program.

"We're very thankful for Kaye's dedication to helping perfect our recycling program," said Kevin Duffy, president of BFDS. "She helped us devise an effective packaging solution that makes it easy for our customers to return used TaterWare cutlery, which makes the program feasible for our partners."

Morgan also helped BFDS simplify the recycling program with UPS Returns®, which provides partners like Whole Foods with a return shipping label to attach to the bag being returned. UPS Returns eliminates much of the effort involved in sending returning the cutlery for recycling, and allows BFDS to cover the shipping costs.


According to Duffy, UPS's support in optimizing returns has helped the TaterWare recycling program grow by 100 percent, and more companies are interested in participating after hearing positive reviews from existing partners.

In addition to UPS Returns, BFDS uses WorldShip® and Quantum View Manage® software and UPS Paperless® Invoice. Now it is also considering participating in UPS's carbon neutral shipping program, which allows customers to pay a small fee to calculate and offset the carbon emissions associated with their shipments.

"One of the best things about working at UPS is working with small businesses like BFDS to develop creative logistics solutions to meet their needs," said Morgan. "This is an example of listening to our customers, understanding what they need and working with them to make it happen."

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