Fresh Direct To (Eventually) Stop Using Those Awful Cardboard Boxes

FreshDirect is finally doing away with the awful cardboard boxes! (For those of you who are unfamiliar, it’s like Peapod but in New York City, and not as good.) One of the main problem with Fresh Direct (from a customer standpoint) is that they pack everything in cardboard boxes.

It makes no sense. You’ll get one package of butter in a huge cardboard box (seen above.)

Well, that’s going to change because FreshDirect is “going green.”

FreshDirect says:

We love that our trucks have become a mass transit system for food, each one replacing the many cars and cabs that would otherwise be used to bring families and food together. We’re committed to making our trucks as clean-burning and low-impact as possible. FreshDirect has partnered with Tri-State Biodiesel, a NYC-based company dedicated to providing the region with clean, renewable biodiesel sources. Tri-State uses cooking oil donated from our kitchen for use in non-toxic diesel fuel. In the next year, we plan to initiate biodiesel use in 100% of our delivery fleet. This action will both reduce emissions and cut back our use of fossil fuel products. Additionally, we are working with the city to identify locations for electrical outlets so we can plug in our trucks and refrigerate using electric engines. We hope to have our first plug-in truck in mid-2008.

We recently switched our delivery boxes in favor of boxes that use 100% recycled fiber content – no virgin fibers are needed in any FreshDirect box. We’re proud to announce that within the next 3 years, we’ll eliminate nearly all of our cardboard delivery boxes, replacing them with recyclable plastic totes and grocery bags. Since our facility was designed with cardboard boxes in mind, switching our systems will involve a complex re-engineering process.

We work hard to make sure that surplus food doesn’t go to waste. Accordingly, FreshDirect is one of City Harvest’s largest food suppliers, helping them to feed New York’s neediest.

Forging partnerships with good people doing good work has been a FreshDirect hallmark for years, and few companies sell more local products. Buying from farms, orchards, dairies and fisheries in the Tri-state area reduces the use of fossil fuels, supports artisanal craftsmanship and stimulates our local economy.

Environmental choices are often complicated, highly personal decisions. That’s why FreshDirect believes in offering customers the opportunity to make informed choices for themselves and their families. We will continue to deliver on that commitment by looking for new ways to deliver quality food alongside thorough information. In the coming year, we’ll work to increase our selection of fish certified as sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council.

3 years? Whatever. Let us know when you’re done with the “complex engineering process.” Currently, FreshDirect is better for obtaining moving boxes than it is for ordering groceries.

Fresh Direct Responds to Environmental Critics [Streetsblog] (Thanks, kimdog!)


Edit Your Comment

  1. What’s Peapod?

  2. You’ll get one package of butter in a huge cardboard box (seen above.)

    Can’t they stop doing that now without the re-engineering process? Maybe use small boxes?

  3. louisb3 says:

    What about those of us who are also unfamiliar with Peapod and therefore have no freaking clue what you’re talking about?

  4. louisb3 says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation: Whoops, you beat me to it.

  5. Illusio26 says:

    An online grocery delivery service.

  6. Starfury says:

    Peapod was a delivery only grocery store back in the internet boom days. Needless to say it did go “boom.”

    When they closed the local distribution center a friend of mine bought a bunch of heavy plastic storage containers for $4 each. They’re similar to the ones that home depot sells but made much better.

  7. homerjay says:

    Peapod’s not gone. Its serviced by a few different grocery chains.

  8. Hawk07 says:

    I actually got a bigger box than that to deliver two clipboards from Staples.

  9. tinychicken says:

    @louisb3: You might find the information you are looking for by clicking on that Peapod link right there in the post.

  10. emona says:

    Staples does this. It drives me INSANE. One order of cups per cardboard box, never mind that you could fit another 4 orders in there. I would cringe every time I order 5-10 stacks of cups, because I know we’ll have at least that many boxes piled up in our workroom.

    According to Staples, that’s “how they do it” in the shipping department and yes, they’ll put in a complaint. As for me, I’ve stopped ordering the product. Everything else they cram in to the smallest possible box, but not those damn cups.

  11. JustAGuy2 says:

    Fresh Direct is great, boxes aside. Very good quality food, lower prices than supermarkets, and delivered to your door in a 2 hour window. Particularly helpful for the large number of New Yorkers who don’t own cars. I’ve ordered dozens of times, and had exactly two problems. Once, a box that should have been refrigerated wasn’t – one email, and they credited my credit card for all the items in there (about $60 in meat and fish, in this case), no muss, no fuss. Second time, they sent the wrong kind of soda. In that case, they just gave me a store credit, which I used on my next order. Overall, great customer service.

  12. MameDennis says:

    I have similar issues with Amazon–they’ll send a big box containing something tiny, like 2 CDs. Very odd.

  13. FLConsumer says:

    I rather enjoyed FreshDirect when I was working in NYC this summer, but I agree on the boxes! Most posters don’t realise that the average NYC apartment is TINY. Imagine your entire apartment is crammed into your bedroom — that’s a NYC apartment. Boxes like this are a pain to work around (they barely fit into my kitchen there) and are problematic to dispose of, at least in the City.

    Back in Florida, I wish I had an equivalent service here. It was rather convenient and the prices were good.

  14. skittlbrau says:

    But how will New Yorkers move without the Fresh Direct boxes? Last time I moved, the movers even had “Fresh Direct Boxes” as a size when generating a quote.

    And though I agree their packing is not the most efficient in the world, I bundle up my boxes for recycling – its not as if they’re not recyclable.

  15. Bungus Aurelius says:

    You might be thinking of Webvan? They blew through about a billion in less than a year, I think. At least as of last Friday, Peapod was alive and well in Chicago.

  16. alice_bunnie says:

    I miss Webvan. :( Great concept. They used re-usable plastic boxes.

  17. akalish says:

    I’ve used Fresh Direct about 100 times and here’s my experience: they will basically give you a credit on almost anything if you email them to complain (i.e. spoiled product, got smashed up in delivery, etc.). The down side is that they don’t seem to take an interest in what you actually say. I’ve requested numerous products, and none have ever appeared on the website. I’ve made complaints about aspects of service and none have ever been responded to. They’re happy to give you a credit, but beyond that their interest in their consumers sucks. In addition, while they’re cheaper than NYC bodegas and smaller grocery stores, most of their prices cannot compare to a Stop & Shop in Westchester, or Fairway in the city. I stick to these two places where I get both great deals and more sophisticated fare (at Fairway). (Fresh Direct focuses on volume with limited warehouse space, at the expense of some common grocery items and more unusual, interesting ones). I’m definitely a professed fan of Fairway; I try to use Fresh Direct only when I need boxes, even if it is convenient.

  18. SRSco says:

    May I suggest that the problem also lies with the douchebags who order one (1) stick of butter to be delivered to their apartment? What happened to just stopping by the corner store on your way home from work?

    Lazy bastids.

  19. vladthepaler says:

    Why don’t people just recycle the boxes?

  20. Toodles5000 says:

    @ Srsco:
    I think that in the past, people have said they will order several things, and that inexplicably (as in the photo above), there will just be one item in a large box. It doesn’t necessarily mean the person only ordered one item.

  21. Topcat says:

    Yeah, the Vancouver equivalent (SPUD) delivers all of your stuff in those big Rubbermaid bins- they just swap the empty one for the new one. It wouldn’t be very practical for someone without a lot of space though- you’ve gotta hang on to that bin for a week (or whatever the time between your deliveries) but its definitely less resource-intensive than cardboard.