Plant-based packaging breakthrough mooted for ready meals
A pilot production process has gone live to determine how commercially feasible it is to apply plant fibre-based packaging to wet food ready meals.
Following talks with a number of European supermarket chains, food packaging firm KCC has installed the line to apply its barrier coating to biodegradable food trays for the ready meals market.
According to the company, fusing bagasse - a by-product of cane sugar production - with a waterproof barrier would make the trays the most environmentally friendly packaging on the market today.
Early tests have shown that the KCC barrier trays perform as well for durability, wet strength and effectiveness in cooking, as traditional trays. By contrast, the new tray can be microwaved, used in an oven, frozen and then either recycled as paper fibre or composted.
KCC Packaging's developer Kevin Clarke has nearly 40 years of experience in this market and is confident that the technology will prove successful.
"In discussions with a number of supermarkets during our pilot production phase we see that environmental managers are realising the advantages that bagasse or bamboo trays have ... the ability to biodegrade, lower carbon footprint needing fewer carbon credits and subsequent reduced impact on landfill," he said.
He added that since the barrier trays will be the same size as existing ones on the market, there will be no expensive changes necessary to the manufacturing process, allowing an easy changeover for food manufacturers.