Packaging for fruit and vegetables made from Welsh ryegrass will be trialled by retailer Waitrose.
Using cutting-edge pulp moulding equipment supplied and commissioned by industrial partner and packaging manufacturer Adare, researchers at Bangor and Aberystwyth Universities have begun a process of heating slurry of ryegrass stocks to press and mould into prototype packaging materials.
Funding of almost £600,000 from the Welsh Government’s Academic Expertise for Business (A4B) programme is facilitating the sustainable products from ryegrass products. This will demonstrate the feasibility of using easy-recycled, fibre-based packaging for foods.
Industry stakeholders from Adare and Waitrose will be looking to find out whether there is potential for commercial use of the product.
Bangor University Biocomposites Centre materials chemist Adam Charlton said: “Working on trials to produce prototype packaging marks an exciting halfway phase in the project and in the coming 12 months we’ll be focussing on optimising these materials through collaboration with Adare and Waitrose.”
Adare packaging technical manager Derek Davies added: “Adare already has an extensive range of fibre-based trays and punnets marketed under its Fibellus brand and this important project will be an opportunity for us to investigate the feasibility of using this exciting alternative Welsh raw material as a source for food and non-food packaging.
“We’re keen to develop our range of practical, environmentally-friendly alternatives to plastic formats and we’re confident that this project could further augment this range of options.”