“IT does what plastic does, it is fully sustainable, and it is available now” that was the message from Sirane MD Simon Balderson in a seminar streamed live as part of the virtual Plastic-Free World Conference & Expo. But what was he referring to?…
The seminar – which was entitled “Plastic replacement technologies and materials for food packaging” – was screened on Monday, November 11.
In the seminar, Simon discussed the realistic alternatives to plastic, and how Sirane is developing a range of solutions using specialised bio-coatings and specialised fibrous substrates to create packaging which offers the same performance.
And he said any packaging needs to fulfil three fundamental requirements: shelf-life, cost equivalence and processability to have any chance of acceptance.
“Any alternative to plastic has to offer the same shelf-life, be around the same cost, and run on the same machines,” said Simon, “otherwise people won’t switch.
“And shelf-life matters, for environmental reasons. Even with packaging, we already waste around a third of all food produced. Without packaging, it would be around half or more, which would be an environmental disaster.
“Plastic’s amazing when it comes to packaging food, it’s used for a reason. It’s clear, strong, light, cheap, easily processed and a good barrier – it’s a tough act to follow, but companies including Sirane have been working on alternatives.”
Simon told viewers of the seminar that there were only two viable alternatives to plastic, particularly for food packaging – bio-polymers and fibre-based.
“Bio-polymers are, generally speaking, around 50% plant-based and 50% fossil fuels. So there are question marks over their sustainability, but also they are not recyclable, and this is a barrier to their acceptance in many countries at present.
“The other option is fibrous materials – paper and board – but this is useless for shelf-life, doesn’t have the barrier and offers no moisture resistance.”
So where do we go from there? Simon told viewers of the seminar that the answer lay in combining specialised fibrous substates with specialised bio-coatings – in other words, coated paper and board packaging can do the same as plastic.
“It is sustainable, it is compostable and it can be recycled,” said Simon. “And it can also provide, in many cases, the barrier required to maintain shelf-life.
Simon explained how just like plastics – which often uses multi-layers laminated together, each with different properties – the same could be done with papers and board, with the combined effect as good as anything plastic can do.
The virtual Plastic-Free World Conference & Expo was held virtually this year. It has replaced two events – one in Cologne in June and a second in Atlanta, which could not be held as a result of the global pandemic and travel bans.
There was more than 200 confirmed speakers and 70 companies exhibiting virtually.
Sirane’s range of plastic-free packaging solutions includes our paper-based stand-up pouches, Earthpouch, and paper-based flow-wrap film Earthfilm. We also offer both compostable and paper-based absorbent pads, and products such as compostable cling-film compostable shrink-film for fresh produce and bio-films.
In addition, Sirane offers a range of board-based products, including our new recyclable sandwich skillet, Earthwedge. Many of our other board products, including cake boards, patisserie boards, pizza boards, etc, can be offered using eco-friendly coating which mean the products can be recycled after use.
We recently added plastic-free salmon boards and VSP boards to our range.
We also have solutions for the horticultural market – such as our plastic-free Earthboard Tree-Guards, which can be used to protect saplings.
For more information on the Plastic-Free Conference & Expo, visit https://plasticfree-world.com