In the UK, Sharp Interpack (formerly MY Plastics) has launched its new range of biodegradable and waterproof thermoplastic food trays.
The trays, which are a composite of starch and polyesters, could help towards reducing the two million tonnes of plastic waste currently produced in the UK.
The material is as strong as PVC and polypropylene so it retains its properties during use but completely breaks down after about six weeks on a compost heap. As well as being used for trays, the composite can be used for covers and netting.
Sharp Interpack is a major supplier to UK supermarket chain Tesco, which has been increasingly using the biodegradable trays for its organic fruit and vegetable range and is working towards a total changeover later this year.
"We see the use of biodegradable materials in our products as a huge leap towards, meeting the government's target to reduce plastic waste by 20 per cent within the next four years," said Sharp Interpack's sales and marketing director Jeremy Sampson. "We hope that, in time, this new technology will supercede the need for conventional plastic packaging and provide a cost effective, environmentally friendly solution that maintains integrity and shelf life."