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Food packaging leading the way

Food packaging

There are numerous forces at play in the ready-made and takeaway food industry that are demanding change. With the pandemic, the growth of meal delivery services and significant changes and innovations in the ready-made meal market, not to mention an increased expectation around sustainability – food packaging looks set for a shake-up.

The National Packaging Targets include the target of 100 per cent reusable, recyclable or compostable packaging by 2025. Immediate action is needed as this is less than two and a half years away.

Packaging producer Confoil® is on the front foot and has embarked on a partnership and new product development journey with BASF to produce certified compostable DualPakECO® trays. The trays are made in Australia using compostable ecovio® biopolymer coating by BASF. The coating is food contact safe and has barrier qualities against liquids and oils to protect the paperboard tray from losing its shape or rigidity. The trays can be frozen or refrigerated and are oven safe for 40 minutes, up to 180 degrees as well as being microwave safe.

DualPakECO trays are certified compostable to Australian Standard AS4736-2006 so can be commercially composted in organic waste bins, where allowed, together with contained food scraps. The trays carry the ‘looped seedling’ compostable logo to educate consumers of their compostable quality.

As more communities introduce source separation systems for diverting food waste from landfill, having certified compostable products will give consumers and organics recyclers such as commercial composting facilities the assurance that the products will completely compost.

Alison Buxton, CEO of Confoil explains, “We wanted to create a paper-based food tray that meets all the food industries’ requirements but with the added benefit that it is certified compostable. Our joint development with BASF represents a shift to paper-based and certified compostable material in order to support the Australian 2025 National Plastics Plan which aims at reducing the impact of packaging on the environment.”

While food producers are sourcing local, in-season ingredients and lessening their impact on the environment, Confoil are looking to close the gap in the circular economy. Ingredients go from the paddock to the plate and DualPakECO trays go from the table to the composting facility and back to the farm to help provide nutrients for the next crop.

Finding a market for any recycled material is critical to the success of a circular economy, ensuring resources retain value through the process. Composting is the ultimate in recycling as the result can be so beneficial to agriculture and viticulture, as well as the environment.

In Australia, according to the Australian Organics Recycling Association (AORA), the composting industry’s environmental contribution is significant. Greenhouse gas savings from organics recycling tops 3.8 million tonnes of CO2 annually which is equivalent to planting 5.7 million trees or taking 876,663 cars off the road.

Compost and mulch can improve soil quality and assist with water retention and drought mitigation. All organic materials contain both carbon and nitrogen – green materials like garden waste and food scraps are richer in nitrogen and brown materials such as straw, sawdust and paperboard are richer in carbon. The perfect recipe for optimum biological activity and efficient compost production, requires a balance of carbon and nitrogen in the material being composted.

Packaging like DualPakECO trays can become an essential part of the composting process, reducing waste to landfill, creating a valuable resource, balancing production and helping to nourish the plants that put food on your table.

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