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As part of its commitment to environmental responsibility, Kurt Zuhlke & Assoc. Inc. is emphasizing its Keeping It Green program with customers. Kurt Zuhlke Jr., the company's president and chief executive officer, told The Produce News, "We have changed our philosophy about the materials we're purchasing [for packaging]."

The service-oriented company, based in Bangor, PA, was founded in 1955 and incorporated in 1995. Today, a host of packaging options is available to customers, including tomato trays, berry baskets, printed poly bags, corrugated boxes, trays and wrappers, pallet stretch film, and roll-stock film. Zuhlke & Assoc. ships throughout the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Europe. "We have capabilities around the world for manufacturers," Mr. Zuhlke said.

Zuhlke & Assoc. has steered away from using biodegradable materials in its packaging because they are derived from corn-based components. "We have a philosophy that we don't want to take food out of peoples' mouths," Mr. Zuhlke stated.

A decade ago, the company began using polyethylene terephthalate, known as PET, for its packaging. According to Ms. Zuhlke, use of this thermoplastic material - commonly used for bottled water and carbonated drinks - keeps the bottles out of landfills. "When you use something over and over, it is good for the environment," Mr. Zuhlke said.

This past June, the company introduced a new 4XL clamshell. The extra-large clam fits into modular boxes and is suitable for packaging of commodities such as apples, tomatoes, oranges, pears and avocados.

One of the personalized services offered is the application of customer labels to clamshells. "Some customers ask us to apply labels," Mr. Zuhlke said. "They really like it. It takes a big headache out of their way."