Sugarcane waste-based durable packaging is plastic-free and compostable

The amount of plastic waste flowing into the ocean could triple by 2040 as part of the estimated 1.3 billion tons predicted to choke our already strained ecosystem, killing marine life and polluting the land. A recent UK investigation found that microscopic, potentially dangerous plastic particles have become “part of the air we breathe”. But companies and governments can reduce plastic production in time, a new study indicates.

W-Cycle, an Israeli foodTech startup has developed SupraPulp, plastic-free packaging made of sugarcane waste that is compostable, safe, and yet durable enough to be used for greasy, wet, or hot food. Packaged food with SupraPulp can be frozen and heated with either an oven, convection oven, steam cooker or microwave.

SupraPulp is patented, field-tested, and an ideal replacement for plastic, aluminium, or foam containers. It is made from 100 per cent renewable sugarcane fibers, called bagasse, the dry, pulpy fibrous matter that remains after sugarcane or sorghum stalks are crushed to extract their juice.

SupraPulp is compostable, non-coated, toxin and metal free. The containers have unique characteristics compared to standard bagasse containers that make them the ideal alternative to plastic trays for food products, especially fresh, frozen, or prepared consumer packaged meals. While standard pulp products cannot sustain liquids and oils, SupraPulp containers are oil – and water-resistant and avoid any absorption or leakage. CPET plastic trays are typically used in for ready-meal packaging.

SupraPulp, just like CPET, is ideal for ready meals since it is suitable for freezer-to-oven/microwave convenience. Fresh meat, poultry & sea food are also commonly packed in plastic (PE, PET, Styrofoam) due to their juice runoff. SupraPulp is a great replacement as it will not absorb them, leak or soften. Following years of R&D efforts, W-Cycle’s new SupraPulp material is able to be frozen to -40°C and reheated to 270°C, inviting a comprehensive range of food applications. After use, the package can be disposed of as organic waste.

“Dispose SupraPulp packages the same way as you would your salad,” says Lior Itai, CEO and co-founder of W-Cycle. “This food-grade, compostable packaging is a one-to-one replacement for its plastic counterpart. There are other compostable solutions on the market, but SupraPulp has game-changing functionality consumers need when they want to heat, freeze, or microwave convenience food products. Plus, SupraPulp trays have a luxury look and feel compared to plastic, aluminum, or bioplastic containers.”


Diageo creates 100 per cent plastic-free paper-based Johnnie Walker bottle

Diageo, makers of Johnnie Walker, Bundaberg Rum, Smirnoff and Baileys, has today announced that it has created the world’s first ever 100 per cent plastic-free, paper-based spirits bottle, made from sustainably sourced wood. The bottle will debut with Johnnie Walker in early 2021.

It comes as Diageo announces that it has launched a new partnership with Pilot Lite, a venture management company, to launch Pulpex Limited, a sustainable packaging technology company. To ensure that the technology can be used in every area of life, Pulpex Limited has established a partner consortium of world leading FMCG companies in non-competing categories including Unilever, and PepsiCo, with further partners expected to be announced later in the year. The consortium partners are each expecting to launch their own branded paper bottles, based on Pulpex Limited’s design and technology, in 2021.

Pulpex Limited has developed a ‘first-of-its-kind’ scalable paper-based bottle designed and developed to be 100 per cent plastic free and expected to be fully recyclable. The bottle is made from sustainably sourced pulp to meet food-safe standards and will be recyclable in standard waste streams. The technology will allow brands to rethink their packaging designs, or move existing designs into paper, while not compromising on the existing quality of the product.

Pulpex Limited’s technology allows it to produce a variety of plastic-free, single-mould bottles that can be used across a range of consumer goods.

Wholefoods online store packages its commitment to environment

An Australian online wholefood store is upping the ante on reducing its carbon footprint by moving to compostable packaging made from 100 per cent vegetable material.

Lismore-based Affordable Wholefoods sells quality bulk organic, non-organic and gluten free wholefoods in resealable, reusable packaging but wanted to offer a more environmentally friendly option.

Mark Evans, owner of Affordable Wholefoods, said customers are happy with the current option, “But we wanted to give them a choice. More people are looking for ways to reduce waste. That is why we are seeing people move towards reusable and compostable packaging,” he said.

“Since we opened in 2008, we have been searching for a more eco-friendly packaging option. But nothing we tested made the grade. Our packaging needs keep the products fresh from the time of packaging to delivery. With many of our customers in rural and remote areas, that’s important.”

Evans and his team’s search lead them NatureFlex; based on cellulose, which is one of the most naturally abundant organic materials derived from renewable resources such as wood pulp from managed plantations.

“We heard great things about its ability to keep items fresh, which was exactly what we were looking for. Being 100 per cent home compostable, now that was speaking our language,” Mark said.

Affordable Wholefoods did not rush the packaging to market. “We tested it over and over, sending parcels to ourselves and back again to see how well the food travelled,” Evans said. “The results were spectacular. Every single time, the wholefoods arrived fresh.

“This is another way we commit to sustainability. Whether our customers use our soft zip lock bags that can be reused repeatedly for food storage or the new NatureFlex bags, which can be disposed of in worm farms, green recycling bins or home composting systems, it’s another step towards reducing plastic, which is important for the environment.”



Good Pair Days offers compostable/ biodegradeable packaging

As the movement for sustainability continues unabated, more wine producers are moving towards farming and wine-making that is both good for the earth and marketable.

To support this industry growth and further the journey towards sustainability, Good Pair Days has taken the opportunity to redesign its packaging, removing all plastic.

Good Pair Days went on journey to come up with an innovative way to package wine, ending with the sugarcane plant, which is the world’s largest crop by production quantity, with over 2 billion tonnes produced annually.

After all the sucrose is extracted from the plant, producers are left with waste. Good Pair Days now repurposes that waste to give customer’s wines a protective bed to lie in when shipped to them each month.

Its new inserts offer protection to the wine. However, a  new insert alone wasn’t enough. Good Pair Days took the time to redesign their cartons, integrating a handle into the packaging structure to remove the use of plastics. This little change means a lot. All packaging can now be either recycled (in the case of its cardboard cartons) or composted (like its new inserts.)

No matter what customers do with Good Pair Days boxes, once they are done with them, they go back into the earth.

Redesigning packaging with reduce, reuse, recycle in mind

As a consumer, you might have heard about the “Waste Hierarchy” and the 5Rs. From a consumer perspective they are:
• Refuse – do not purchase unwanted items.
• Reduce – eliminate single-use packaging wherever possible. This means declining plastic coffee cups, shopping bags, straws and buying products that are sustainable.
• Reuse products more than once. Purchase reusable water bottles, keep-a-cups, and recyclable shopping bags
• Recycle – ensure that you place your products in the recycling bins and purchase products that are recyclable. Look for products that are using the new Australasian Recycling Label (ARL) to better understand the true recyclability of the materials.
• Repurpose – purchase products that are made from recycled materials – consciously purchase bags, shoes, furniture, jewellery that you know is made from recycled content.

Mindsets have shifted over the last few years, and globally consumers are actively driving brands and their packaging departments to supplement sustainable packaging design to incorporate the 5Rs and to redesign with environmental impacts in mind.

Packaging technologists are being asked to reconsider the outcomes of their packaging design all the way across the supply chain from manufacturing to recycling, and also consider a closed-loop and more circular approach. Packaging design can no longer be linear.

When discussing the waste hierarchy from a packaging design perspective, reduce, reuse and recycle are the three most important areas for long-term changes as they are the preventative measures with the highest level of impact.

Achievable steps for packaging technologists can include redesigning the shape and size of a product, reducing thickness and weight of materials, shifting to recyclable materials, and developing a closed-loop system for products. However, any adaptations to the packaging design, structure and form must not compromise the ultimate purpose of packaging, which is maintain the ability to protect, preserve, contain, communicate and transport a product to the consumer. First and foremost, packaging must remain fit-for-purpose before any structural changes are made to a pack. The AIP encourages all packaging teams to undertake a lifecycle assessment where possible before any pack is altered. A redesign feature of packaging that consumers are embracing is reuse whereby a customer can refill their products using the same packaging. It is important to note that reusable containers have less impact on the environment than one that is single use. Packaging technologists need to re-imagine their packaging for continued use and the ability to have multiple uses for the consumer.

Consumers are also driving the focus to what is really happening with packaging and the end of life. Packaging technologists are now being asked to stop and review their packaging and find out whether it is actually being recycled or landfilled in the country it is sold in. The availability of the APCO PREP tool enables this decision making. In addition, if the material is capable of being recycled in the country in which it is sold, then consumer waste and greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced across the lifespan of the product.

This in turn achieves the 2025 National Packaging Targets that all brands are working towards.

If the material is unable to be recycled, then look at the possibility of moving to a recycled content, and even the use of renewable resource raw materials. Once again, the AIP urges consumers to undertake a full lifecycle assessment if possible, before moving to recycled content to determine if this is in fact the best decision for a product.

A recent example of the reuse, refill and recycle concept that has considered the product all the way through the supply chain is Cif ecorefill. Unilever announced on its global website the launch of Cif ecorefill, the new at-home technology that allows consumers to refill and reuse their Cif spray bottles for life. Cif has worked to create a no-mess solution, becoming the first household cleaning brand to do so with this pioneering twist and click refill design. Made with 75 per cent less plastic, Cif ecorefill attaches to the current Cif Power & Shine bottles. Through its technology, it seamlessly releases the super-concentrated product into the bottle, which is filled with water at home. The ecorefills are 100 per cent recyclable once the plastic sleeves are removed and, by the end of 2020, the ambition is for all Cif ecorefills and spray bottles to be made from 100 per cent recycled plastic. Going smaller is certainly better – the ecorefills are lightweight and save on storage space. Diluting the product at home means 97 per cent less water is being transported,
fewer trucks on the road and less greenhouse gas emissions.

Every day, more companies are announcing refillable packaging solutions including cosmetics and beauty, toiletries such as shampoo and soaps, cleaning products and beverages. The journey to sustainable packaging has only just begun and it is exciting to see what innovative designs packaging technologists are working on that address reduce, reuse, refill and recycle.