A pair of promising compostable packaging options

By Rick Lingle in Food Packaging on October 03, 2017

Two diverse biodegradable film options for foods, one for primary packaging and the other for restaurants, that can help reduce food waste sent to landfills were found at Process Expo.

 

The biodegradable packaging market is anything but disappearing, and globally was valued at $4.9 billion in 2016, according to a report from Mordor Intelligence. It’s projected to reach nearly $11 billion by the end of 2021 at a CAGR of 17.4%. Food packaging is a major segment accounting for more than 65% of biodegradable plastic and paper packaging market.

It’s that majority portion of the market that was represented at last month’s food and beverage-centered Process Expo, where I found two vendors that offered biopolymer-film based compostable packaging solutions. Both featured novel and distinctly different products that presented a focused solution to address food waste to landfills for their respective markets.

First up is Zubex, which was promoting Zubiox-brand biodegradable films suitable for meat and cheese that, according to the vendor, 100% degrade after 26 months in a landfill. Backed now by 5 years’ research, development and industrial trials, the PVDC-free coextruded material, made of polymers including polyethylene and polyamide, is available in two versions, a 1.75-mil film for meat casings and a 2-mil film for shrinkable bags. Both products are FDA-compliant and available in medium and high-barrier formulations.

According to Gabriel Santos, cook-in product manager (seen in the photo at top), the product’s customers include Qualtia Alimentos, one of the largest companies in México, owner of Zwan brand, which has have been using Zubiox casings for nearly two years for a premium line that includes turkey and leg hams. “We have projects in other countries like the U.S., Canada and Panama where Zubiox films will be used for hams, cheese and meat,” he tells Packaging Digest.

Based in Monterrey, Mexico, Zubex has U.S. offices in Austin, TX, along with distributors and sales representatives in U.S., Canada and Central America.

Restaurant-optimized packaging to reduce food waste

Much attention, rightfully so, is placed on reducing food waste wherever possible. While there’s been much activity in addressing food waste upstream through primary packaging using improved barriers and other shelf-life extending technologies, there are downstream occasions where food waste seems inevitable. For example, consider the amount of waste in foodservice such as at restaurants where leftovers that aren’t taken home have to be discarded, presumably ending up in nearby landfills.

One solution was found at Paxxo’s stand, which caught my attention for its back-of-booth row of colorful bags in interesting-looking stand-up metal stations as seen above. Those turned out to be a systems approach using the company’s Longopac system. The stands are loaded with up to 360 feet of folded extremely thin and strong bag material; bags are made at point-of-use to the size of the waste volume to save time and material. A bag change can be done in 30 seconds, according to managing director Henrik Peters, who notes that the system generates 70% less carbon dioxide compared to regular bags.

 

There is also Biodegradable version of the bag cassette made from corn starch for managing food waste that's a 100% compostable alternative to conventional, petro-based plastic garbage bags. The material, available only invEurope at this time, is supplied as a 40-meter long tube that provides film-like strength for 12 months before use, Peters says.

"In the Nordics countries we have many restaurants and canteens that use the system for composting of food waste," says Peters. "We are currently trying to establish the Longopac system within food processing and HORECA (Hotel/Restaurant/Café) operations in Europe. So far we have not started to sell the Biodegradable in the U.S. due to the lack of infrastructure. More companies need to be environmentally friendly."

It’s possible we may see more traction for this type of compostable, landfill-diverting packaging for use at restaurants, hotels and other institutional outlets: this news was just released over a patent granted to a company for organic waste collection using compostable bags: Organix Solutions Receives Patent for Organics Co-Collection Method

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Hungry for fresh ideas in packaging? Join the packaging experience during MinnPack in Minneapolis November 8-9 that’s part of a comprehensive all-in-one 6-event plastics and advanced manufacturing exhibition. For more information, visit MinnPack.

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