An Australian company called BioBag World Australia has introduced a compostable wrap for cucumbers after twelve months of development with South Australian produce and packaging companies IG Fresh Produce. The wrap is an environmentally-friendly substitute to the conventional polyethylene plastic wrap and has already sparked export interest from South Africa and Qatar.
The development has come at a time when there is an outcry about climate change. Plastic remain is a huge problem, and nevertheless, there are efforts to dispose off our throw-away mess, actions are also being taken to reduce our consumption, mostly single-use plastic. George Antonas, executive director of IG Fresh, said he was contacted by South Australian independent grocer Drakes Supermarkets to make a compostable vegetable and fruit wrap to substitute conventional shrink-wrap.
Antonas said the product was being used solely on cucumbers sold at Drake’s 38 South Australian supermarkets until 16 October, after which it’d be accessible for a broad range of purposes.
“JP Drake gave us the challenge and so we gave them product exclusiveness for the initial four weeks,” Antonas said.
Antonas disclosed a likely investment partner from Qatar had gone to Adelaide for the product launch with Drakes. He expected to start distributing cucumbers clad in the compostable wrap to Qatar by the end of October, with trades to South Africa and Europe to follow.
The bioplastic film is prepared from a compostable resin called Mater-Bi that utilizes substances acquired from plants including non-genetically modified corn starch. Although there are other compostable goods on the market, Antonas said making a 100 percent industrially compostable cucumber wrap required an exclusive process.
“That’s where Scott Morton’s, the director of BioBag World Australia, knowledge came into it – because it’s heat shriveled onto the cucumber. There’s plenteously of compostable products out there, but this one is for a particular purpose,” Antonas said.
“There’s a big impulse to make all single-use packaging compostable. So, you purchase a cucumber, you peel off the packaging and you put it in your greens bin and you see it’s not going to add to landfill and that kind of thing. Plastic has its room but not for single-use, it just generates too much waste.”
According to Antonas, the cucumber compostable wrap can be used on all fruit and vegetables, and Morton agrees. “The potential is infinite. It’s refining all of the time. I see it as a direct substitute for plastic,” Morton said. Norway-based BioBag has six plants and 20 market or distribution partners around the globe, producing over 1bn bags every year. Morton said BioBag was also working on a non-shrink-wrap compostable product that could be switched with plastic cling films.
The cucumber wrap developed in South Australia could also be delivered in key international markets including the United States. “We’re trying to improve the current cucumber wrap. It’s not quite appropriate yet as a cling wrap substitute,” he said.
“We’re making a new product that’s more for the international market. That’s a product that will mainly keep vegetables and fruit fresh. We have some patented technology that we integrate into it, so that way it’ll keep fruit garden-fresh.”