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Sustainably circular packaging boasts a shelf-life extending modified atmosphere for fresh produce and a first customer using it for form-fill-seal packaging.

December 14, 2022

2 Min Read
First customer for chemically recycled polyamide 6 film will use it to package passion fruit.Image courtesy of BASF

BASF SE and StePac Ltd. joined forces to create a new generation of sustainable packaging specifically for the fresh produce market. BASF is supplying StePac with its Ultramid Ccycled, a chemically recycled polyamide 6. The film will provide greater flexibility to advance contact-sensitive packaging formats to a higher sustainable standard within the circular economy.

The company was recently REDcert2 certified to incorporate chemically recycled polyamide 6 into its flexible, modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) products. Its two brands, Xgo and Xtend, are based on MAP technology with built-in humidity control. The tech slows respiration inside the packaging, delays the ageing processes, inhibits microbial decay, and preserves the quality and nutritional value of the produce during prolonged storage and long-haul shipments.

Ultramid Ccycled will comprise 30% of the packaging material, with options for integration at a higher percentage.

“This alliance will help strike a balance between creating plastic packaging that is as eco-friendly as possible to keep fresh produce longer through more prudent use of lean plastic films,” says Gary Ward, business development manager of StePac. “These upgraded packaging formats will continue to maintain their role of significantly reducing food waste, a most important task considering that global food waste is responsible for about 8% of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions.”

Technology complements mechanical recycling.

With ChemCycling, BASF breaks new ground in the recycling of plastic waste, which otherwise would have been used for energy recovery or landfilled. It complements mechanical recycling, accelerating a circular economy by yielding food-grade recycled plastic.

“In a thermochemical process, our partners obtain recycled feedstock from these end-of- life plastics, which is then fed into the BASF Verbund. Using a mass balance approach, the raw material can be attributed to specific products, such as Ultramid Ccycled,” explained Dr. Dominik Winter, VP of BASF’s European polyamides business. “This helps to replace fossil raw materials and is an important step towards circularity. As chemically recycled plastics have the same quality and safety as virgin material, the scope of plastics that can be recycled for fresh produce packaging is widened.”

Colombian passion fruit exporters Jardin Exotics, S.A.S. will be the first to use the new packaging brand Xgo Circular. Supplied as film for horizontal form fill-and- seal, the packaging’s MAP properties will slow the ripening process and preserve the quality of the fruit during the long sea voyage from Colombia to Europe.

Packing at-source in the final retail packaging format also eliminates the need for repacking after arrival. For passion fruit, the combination of the produce specific modified atmosphere properties of the film together with its high-water vapor transmission rate are what makes this film unique in its performance.

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