Novamont, the Novara, Italy-based producer of the Mater-Bi family of bioplastics, presented a selection of novel applications and new eco-packaging solutions at the Fruit Logistica 2014, the leading fair for the international fresh produce trade that ended Friday in Berlin.
Especially impressive was the introduction of the first Mater-Bi mulching film for strawberries - "a revolution for a crop of such strategic importance for national and international fruit and vegetable production," according to Alessandro Ferlito, Novamont's sales director. Until now, no biodegradable film had been available for this long-cycle crop that could effectively ensure mulching over the entire crop cycle.
As the new Mater-Bi film is both durable and completely biodegradable in the soil, it offers excellent mulching performance in combination with savings in costs and time spent on removal and disposal of films at the end of the crop cycle: at the end of the crop cycle, the film, which is certified according to international standards, can simply be left in the soil. Microorganisms ensure its complete mineralization and subsequent transformation into carbon dioxide and water.
Mater-Bi was also chosen for the coating of the new eco-packaging for frozen organic wild berries sold under the COOP brand in Sweden. The frozen berries package, which can also be used to serve the fruit, is part of the "Änglamark" range - COOP Sweden's organic range, which is fair trade, environmentally sustainable and allergy tested.
The packaging is made from Invercote Bio, a virgin-fiber board from Swedish paper manufacturer Iggesund Paperboard, which is extrusion-coated with Mater-Bi. "The challenge was to find a material that could be extruded with good results and to identify an adhesive that performed well during production and also when exposed to challenging conditions in refrigerators, " said Jonas Adler, Invercote bio sales director for Iggesund Paperboard. However, it was also a choice that was motivated by the fact that Novamont bioplastic contains no GMO cornstarch, he said.
"This choice was perfectly in line with our policies on sustainability and is not something sporadic, because the principles of sustainability inform all of our business decisions," said Louise König, COOP's sustainability manager.
At the trade fair, Novamont also launched the two new Mater-Bi bags developed to package the white and yellow mountain potatoes from grown in Italy's Cuneo valleys. The bags are the result of a longstanding collaboration between Novamont and Ortofruit Italia, a fruit and vegetable cooperative from Piedmont. Strong and odorless, the new bags offer the advantage that both packaging and packaged goods have the same biodegradation properties. "This increases the efficiency of separate wet waste collection because it helps reduce production of waste and increases the amount of organic waste collected, ensuring the levels of quality required for the final compost," explained Romualdo Riva, Ortofruit Italia's commercial director.
According to Novamont, Mater-Bi is well on the way toward becoming one of the reference materials for food packaging and catering. Its biodegradability and compostability represent added value for products contaminated with food scraps, which if manufactured from conventional materials, would be difficult and uneconomical to recycle.