Australian food packaging manufacturer Confoil and chemicals company BASF have partnered to develop a certified compostable and dual ovenable food tray based on paper.
The paper tray is coated on the inside with BASF’s ecovio PS 1606, a partly bio-based and certified compostable biopolymer developed for coating food packaging made of paper or board.
The trays called DualPakECO are certified according to the Australian standard AS4736-2006 and food contact approved according to international requirements. They can be used for ready-to-eat meals available as cold or frozen in supermarkets as well as for catering and take-away from restaurants.
The trays extend the end-of-life options for paper-based packaging by being organically recyclable: They can be commercially composted with the organic waste collected in organic waste bins. The new packaging solution also supports organics recycling of food residues and food-soiled packaging which increases the diversion of food waste from landfill and incineration.
The companies said this new certified compostable solution is an alternative to conventional PET packaging for ready-to-eat meals as the trays can be heated in conventional ovens and microwaves, can be chilled or frozen.
“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,” Confoil CEO Alison Buxton said.
“With BASF’s certified compostable biopolymer ecovio PS 1606 we have found the ideal component to take the next step towards sustainable solutions in our portfolio and to help our customers reach their sustainability targets at the same time.
“Our joint development 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.”
According to Buxton, composting trials have shown that the DualPakECOtrays break down into water, carbon dioxide and nutrient-rich compost within four to six weeks under commercial composting conditions.
As for the paperboard for DualPakECO, it can easily be formed and allows for printability. The board is lightweight yet rigid enough for in-line production facilities. It also offers secure sealing across a variety of film substrates and machinery.
The paper tray is coated with ecovio PS 1606 in a mono-layer extrusion process. Due to its top migration barrier properties, the BASF biopolymer also enables the use of recycled paper in food applications.
The high content of renewable raw materials leads to a reduced material carbon footprint, which allows savings of greenhouse gas emissions.
“Composting is the most resource-efficient process for food waste recycling. This packaging solution supports a circular economy as it contributes to the diversion of food waste and food-soiled packaging from landfills and incineration, thus avoiding associated greenhouse gas emissions,” BASF market development biopolymers member Rowan Williams said.
“Currently available PET food trays are not reusable, they are difficult and uneconomical to recycle mechanically – so in reality they mostly go to landfill or incineration. With Confoil we found the ideal partner to develop a solution that proves the feasibility of a food package that combines sustainability with high technical performance.”