Biodegradable baking trays span production process

By Caroline Scott-Thomas

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Starch Baking Bioplastic

Biosphere Industries and Sealed Air have developed a completely biodegradable range of trays and pans specifically for bakery use, designed to be used throughout product manufacture from freezer to oven to table.

Renew-a-Pak is a starch-based range of commercial bakeware currently available for use with muffins, breads and tarts. It composts completely in 40 days outdoors or in ten days in a commercial composting environment, but its developers say that it has “extended shelf-life, even in humid climates.”

If composting facilities are unavailable, the packages can also be disposed of along with paper recycling.

CEO of Biosphere Industries Elie Helou said that the technology allows manufacturers “to optimise the natural benefits and cost efficiencies of plant based starches into products that perform as well as plastic or metal.”

It is suitable for freezing, cooking, product display and re-heating at home.

The company said that it is not made from starches converted into plastic, but a baked combination of entirely natural materials based on tapioca and potato starches, with added grass fibre.

The rise of bioplastics

Sealed Air’s director of corporate communication Ken Aurichio told “Bioplastics are becoming more prominent in the move for people to be more environmentally friendly. Demand for this kind of technology is growing every day.”

Most bioplastics are made from corn starches but Aurichio said that the Renew-a-Pak formula was based on readily available, yearly harvested raw materials.

“The formula depends on availability. This doesn’t use any corn deriviatives, so we are always looking at what would not be considered food crops.”

High resilience

Aurichio also highlighted the packaging’s ‘dual ovenability’, meaning that it can be cooked by the manufacturer and then reheated by the consumer without damage.

“It’s about doing your part for environment as well as increasing efficiency,” ​he said. “Steam is the only by-product of the​ [manufacturing] process…For food manufacturers, it reduces labour, water use and materials costs for washing dishes.”

Apart from its environmentally-friendly profile, the company says that bakers are not required to change their operations to adopt the packaging. It maintains rigidity in freezing, is microwavable and tolerates temperatures of up to 215°C (420°F).

“One of the things that bakeries find appealing is that they don’t need to change their recipes or operations,”​ said Aurichio.

As it does not have to be transferred from a baking system to a different package for display, it also reduces labour and minimises the risk of product breakage.

This latest biodegradable offering comes as an increasing number of companies are turning to environmentally friendly packaging.

Food giant Nestle, for example, has recently switched to bioplastic chocolate trays and compostable chocolate wrappers, while UK supermarket chain Sainsbury has adopted biodegradable film for its organic salads.

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