The US based thermoform tray supplier said that the AgroResin packaging, which has Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for contact with food, is certified biodegradable and compostable, and uses non-GM (genetically modified) raw materials that were previously considered waste products: "These materials would otherwise be discarded or incinerated. This is truly a win-win for the environment and the economy since we are not using materials that have alternative uses such as corn, palm or sugar cane," said Natalie Kirschner, marketing manager, PWP Industries. She told FoodProductionDaily.com that the AgroResin is manufactured in China and it is a composite of natural fibres that includes rice and cotton by-products. "The good news is that any natural fibre is a candidate for us since the AgroResin 'recipe' is not dependant on one particular fibre and we can vary our source to optimise the cost and performance," added Kirschner. Capabilities The packaging, according to Kirschner, is more expensive than traditional foam products but is very competitive with other eco-friendly alternatives through its moisture resistance, suitability for microwave usage and compatibility with flow-wrap and shrink-wrap systems. "It can be produced with a natural 'earthy' brown look that compliments fresh produce or prepared food products, it allows lid embossing for promotional logo opportunities and its porous surface helps to extend product shelf-life," she added. Testing phase The AgroResin packaging is currently in the product development and testing phase with over two dozen potential users, claims Kirschner. "One of the prospects is a large food processor where the volumes would be substantial. They have ordered a prototype mould for a microwave application and will be in testing for the next two months," she said. The company said it will be distributing the trays in Europe following on from the US launch. Ecological scorecard According to Kirschner, there is a lot of confusion in the marketplace today on what constitutes an 'environmentally friendly' solution and as such the company is working towards developing a definitive 'scorecard' on the ecological value of a package. "We have to consider the entire cycle of packaging from conversion to delivery and on toward the compost or recycling centre. It is complicated measurement, but it will help our customers make wise decisions," she claims. She added that the packaging is suitable for organic produce, fruit and vegetables as well as sandwiches, ready-to-go foods, microwave applications and meat trays.