It is estimated that arable farming produces around 8 billion tonnes of carbohydrate waste every year in the form of discarded stalks, leaves, and roots, while the processing of fruits and vegetables results in high amounts of waste materials such as peels, seeds, stones, and unused flesh. Much of this waste is discarded or burned, but food companies hope to develop ways of converting it into useful products.
For example, UK-based Tensei, which has a database of nearly 400 fibres that would otherwise be wasted, is making plastic and wood-free paper packaging products for the food industry using crop waste materials such as apple skins, avocado peel, and mango pips.
Launched in 2017, Tensei recently trialled its F Pads product to replace the pads in 150,000 blackberry punnets. It estimated that use of the pads, which bioengineered using agri-residues and grasses, rather than virgin wood, saved 12 tennis courts worth of plastic and wood pulp.
“This is just the beginning,” noted Annabelle Cox, Tensei CEO.
“Think how much more deforestation and plastic waste could be prevented through packaging innovation and using what is otherwise wasted.”
Avoiding virgin wood and plastic by using what would otherwise be wasted allows for the creation of truly sustainable packaging.
The F Pads are now being tested for bakery, under pizza, and meat applications. Considering other biowaste streams, such as avocado skins, the company is also developing lightweight uncoated paper made from crop wastes to replace greaseproof paper.