The market shift to frozen food over the period of the Covid pandemic represents a big advance for sustainability. WRAP estimates that 9.5m tonnes of food are thrown away every year in the UK[i] by households and businesses. But research shows that switching to frozen products helps families reduce their food waste by over 47 percent[ii].
To package these products, however, single-use, flexible plastics are often used due to their protective and durable properties in extreme conditions. In particular, flexible plastic films are amongst the most difficult to recycle. Too often these end up in the landfill, incineration or the natural environment.
Even where cardboard boxes are used, a plastic coating is often required to prevent the packaging from deterioration in freezing temperatures and moisture, meaning the material cannot be straightforwardly recycled in kerbside collection systems.
There is now an opportunity to further enhance the sustainability credentials of the industry by using completely natural replacements for packaging, such as Xampla’s world first plant protein material. This 100% plant based and biodegradable material performs just like plastic but leaves nothing behind after it has been used, at its end of life.
Uniquely, Xampla’s breakthrough material also responds extremely well to frozen temperatures, remaining flexible and durable and protecting the contents. This means that packaged items could be transferred direct to boiling water in their packaging, with the film dissolving altogether in the cooking process. Or, where non-soluble formats are used, the material can be placed in food waste bins and will degrade in the same way as vegetable peelings.
Partnering with meal kit retailer Gousto, Xampla recently created the world’s first edible stock cube wrapper made from pea protein. This shows the potential to create products that are simply not possible with any other materials, and the potential opportunities for frozen products.
As the popularity of frozen food products continues to surge, brands will doubtless seek to respond to consumer desires for truly sustainable packaging by exploring next generation alternative materials. With half of Britons vowing to use less plastic in 2022, it simply makes business sense for brands to become early adopters in the sector[iii], and Xampla stands ready to help.
Meanwhile, retailers such as Iceland are already making moves in the right direction, by committing to be plastic-free across its own label packaging and plastic neutral across the business.
By rolling out plastic alternatives at scale, Xampla’s mission is no less than to turn plastic into a packaging material of the past. And working with the frozen food brands, we believe we can help make the sector’s packaging as sustainable as the products it protects.
To find out more visit www.xampla.com.