KCC Packaging has developed a sugar cane-based biodegradable food tray to be used in place of the plastic ones that two million ready meals a year are supplied in within the UK.
Managing Director Kevin Clarke said: “The main thrust of what we are doing as a business is developing an alternative for a high carbon product.
“We have been in research and development mode for a long time on a very difficult challenge which is how to find an alternative to the plastic ready meal tray.
“As mundane as that sounds, it has been a big task, because ovenable plastic has been around for 40-50 years. So have been working on a product that is compostable, sustainable and low carbon. We will have spent in excess of a million pounds on developing this over the past 15 years or so.”
“When you have an uncoated sugar cane-based tray, it is going to be good for a day or two at best because the moisture in the food literally dissolves it.
“We have been working to find a way of bonding the surface and we are at a breakthrough moment now. Our product performs well and to a very high temperature and still remains compostable and recyclable.”
KCC Packaging has also been campaigning for its recyclable food trays to be collected by councils.
“At the moment the plastic food trays are mainly going for incineration. There is a lot of talk about recycling, but it is not happening to any great extent.
“We are trying to give food producers and retailers the opportunity to move off the heavy dependency on this high carbon, plastic product which requires a lot of energy to make and is of course fossil-fuel based.”