Innovation Zone

ThePackHub Innovation Zone Snapshot

by Paul Jenkins, Managing Director of ThePackHub.
I am delighted to bring you my personal Innovation Zone snapshot update, a peek at the emerging trends from ThePackHub’s 6,800-strong global packaging innovation platform.
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Trend Tracking: seaweed developments taking the lion’s share of pre-commercialised bio-packs.

This week, I’m taking a deep dive into the bio-packaging market and, specifically, seaweed-based developments.

Seaweed-based packaging initiatives have increased over recent times and we’re tracking more examples in the Innovation Zone than ever before. We’ve already tracked nine since the start of the year.

Seaweed is a renewable resource that can be harvested in large quantities without causing harm to the environment. It is biodegradable and compostable, meaning it can break down naturally without leaving any harmful residue. Seaweed grows faster than land plants and generates negative CO2. Seaweed-based packaging has several good barrier properties, including moisture, oxygen, odour, grease, and light protection, which makes it suitable for packaging food and other perishable goods. This is making it an attractive alternative to single-use plastics for some operators.

Many of the developments we’re tracking are still at the pre-commercialisation stage, meaning we’re likely to see more launches in the coming months and years.

GIVE ME FIVE!

Here are five new seaweed-based initiatives we think you should know about recently posted to the Innovation Zone.

1 – Carbonwave, based in Boston, creates plant-based materials from seaweed to restore soils and oceans, eliminate micro-plastics, and achieve carbon neutrality. Their materials replace toxic petroleum-based products and create alternatives such as fertilizers, cosmetics, clothing, and packaging. Carbonwave has developed a seaweed-based leather-like fabric that is competitive with other vegan textiles without relying on polyurethane plastic.

2 – Biscuit Olibet uses bioplastic laminate with up to 30% algae for internal wrappers. The laminate is made by Superfilm and used by Olibet to package chocolate and spice shortbread. The wrapper won a Worldstar award from the World Packaging Organization. Eranova aims to produce 30,000 tonnes of bioplastic by 2027 and is seeking 60 million euros in funding.

3 – Swiss startup Noriware creates biodegradable seaweed material to reduce waste from single-use plastics in the food service industry. The company offers two alternative products, the Noricup and Norifilm, and received support from a university and funds from NTN Innovation Booster Plastics for Zero Emission.

4 – London-based Notpla has been around for a while but has recently launched a plastic-free, seaweed-based takeaway packaging line that is grease and water-resistant. The packaging can be recycled or home composted and is PFAS-free. Just Eat is supplying seaweed-coated packaging to restaurants in several countries. The range includes seven packaging options and is available in both white and brown kraft paperboard.

5 – Researchers from the Polytechnic University of Leiria aim to create an edible, algae-based substitute for single-use plastic film for frozen fish. The SeaFilm project incorporates bioactive seaweed extracts to increase shelf life and provide a biodegradable film that can be disposed of or eaten with the fish. The film could even include seasonings for a convenient and tasty meal. The solution was supported by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund and the industry is eager to see results for other species such as cod and hake.

Seaweed-based packaging has emerged as a promising alternative to conventional packaging materials. It offers several benefits in terms of sustainability, biodegradability, and barrier properties. However, its widespread adoption still faces significant challenges related to its cost, availability, and scalability. In addition, the end-of-life disposal of seaweed-based packaging remains a concern, as some options, such as consuming it, is often not practical. Compostable packaging also requires specific conditions to decompose correctly and should be disposed of in a commercial composting facility or a home composting system.

Leading brand owners, retailers, and packaging suppliers trust the Innovation Zone to stay ahead with the latest packaging innovations. Contact me to learn how membership can enhance your company’s understanding.

ThePackHub’s Refillable & Reusable Packaging Compendium Volume 2 is out now. The most comprehensive reuse packaging trend summary available. Find out more and order here.

I will be presenting at Packaging Innovations NEC this week.

Global Events Packaging Trends Tracker will be on the Innovation & Design Stage at 11:30 on 15th February.

If you attending this week, let me know! It would be great to catch up.

You can register for the show here.

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Until next time. Happy innovating.
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