BASF partners StePac to develop sustainable packaging for fresh produce

GERMANY – German chemical company BASF has partnered with functional packaging provider StePac to develop sustainable packaging for the fresh produce sector.

The partnership comes after StePac recently received REDcert2 certification to incorporate chemically recycled polyamide 6 into its modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) products.

BASF says it will supply StePac with its Ultramid Ccycled product, a chemically recycled polyamide 6 that will provide StePac with greater flexibility to advance contact-sensitive packaging formats to a higher sustainable standard within the circular economy.

StePac, which specializes in developing packaging, says it is pioneering the use of chemically recycled plastics for the packaging of fresh perishables.

The company’s two brands, Xgo and Xtend, are based on MAP technology with built-in humidity control that slows respiration inside the packaging, delays the aging process, inhibits microbial decay and preserves the quality and nutritional value of the product during prolonged storage and long-haul shipments.

As part of the partnership, 30% of Xtend and Xgo packaging will be made from Ultramid Ccycled, with plans to increase the content in the future.

The packaging’s MAP properties are designed to slow the ripening process and maintain the quality when in transit from Colombia to Europe. Gary Ward, StePac Business Development Manager said: “This alliance will help strike a balance between creating plastic packaging that is as eco-friendly as possible to keep fresh produce longer through more prudent use of lean plastic films.

“These upgraded packaging formats will continue to maintain their role of significantly reducing food waste, a most important task considering that global food waste is responsible for about 8 percent of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions.”

BASF says its chemical recycling process, ChemCycling, has broken new ground in the recycling of plastic materials.

It adds that chemical recycling primarily involves plastic materials that would have been used for energy recovery or landfilled and complements mechanical recycling by yielding food-grade recycled plastic.

Dr. Dominik Winter, vice president of BASF’s European polyamides business said: “In a thermochemical process, our partners obtain recycled feedstock from these end-of-life plastics, which is then fed into the BASF Verbund.

“Using a mass balance approach, the raw material can be attributed to specific products, such as Ultramid Ccycled.

“This helps to replace fossil raw materials and is an important step towards circularity. As chemically recycled plastics have the same quality and safety as virgin material, the scope of plastics that can be recycled for fresh produce packaging is widened.”

According to StePac, Colombian passion fruit exporters Jardin Exotics S.A.S. will be the first to use the new packaging brand Xgo Circular, which is supplied as a film for horizontal form fill-and-seal.

The company adds that the packaging’s MAP properties will slow the ripening process and preserve the quality of the fruit during its long sea voyage from Colombia to Europe.

In addition, packing at-source in the final retail packaging format also eliminates the need for repacking after arrival, notes StePac.

For passion fruit, the company says the combination of the produce specific modified atmosphere properties of the film and its high-water vapor transmission rate are what makes film unique in its performance.

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