Jacksonville, Florida-based Southeastern Grocers Inc. has announced a partnership with Relocalize to pilot ice manufacturing in the first autonomous micro-factory, designed to help eliminate middle-mile logistics to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, water waste and plastic pollution.
The new ice micro-factory was unveiled at the grocer’s Jacksonville Distribution Center, where a ribbon made of 200 pounds of ice was cut with a chainsaw by Southeastern Grocers and Relocalize leadership to celebrate the achievement.
This first micro-factory is managed by an AI-powered software platform that utilizes robotics for all production labor. This process allows the grocer to scale production and create waste-reduction solutions throughout the full lifecycle of the product at a lower economic and environmental cost.
Through this partnership, Southeastern Grocers has also introduced Party Cubes, a certified plastic-negative, packaged ice that is produced on-site and on-demand at the facility. This product is available at two Jacksonville locations, including the Lakewood Winn-Dixie store and the grocer’s stand-alone liquor store, WD’s Wine, Beer and Liquor in the Miramar neighborhood, with considerations to expand to the broader market in the future.
“Our partnership with Relocalize meets at the intersection of sustainability and innovation and provides a unique opportunity to offer our customers better ice, in a better package, at a better price – that’s also better for the planet,” said Anthony Hucker, president and CEO.
“We plan to pilot ice manufacturing in the world’s first autonomous ice micro-factory in our hometown of Jacksonville, and we are excited to now offer Party Cubes in select local stores as we test and learn with the industry’s first hyper-local, certified plastic-negative, packaged ice. We believe it’s our responsibility to be leaders of change, and we continue to push forward for a brighter future for our people, products and planet.”
Party Cubes reportedly store easier and cost less for consumers compared to traditional bagged ice, and the smaller, leak-proof packaging is 100 percent recycle-ready. For every one pound of plastic used in packaging, Relocalize will remove and recycle two pounds of ocean plastic. Additionally, the process produces zero water waste and reduces trucking carbon dioxide emissions by 90 percent.
“Two years ago, we set out on a mission to decarbonize food supply chains,” said Wayne McIntyre, CEO and co-founder for Relocalize.
“Today, fully autonomous hyper-local food manufacturing becomes a reality through our partnership with Southeastern Grocers. This premier packaged ice micro-factory represents a fundamental shift in how packaged food is produced and distributed, ushering in the era of the one-step food journey from production to consumption.
For more information, visit segrocers.com/aboutus.