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CTIFL working on alternatives to plastic for fruit and vegetable packaging

As the new regulation to ban plastic packaging, especially films and trays, will come into effect in 2022, CTIFL is searching for alternatives.

“In 2018, according to Kantar reports, 37% of the fruit and vegetable quantities were purchased like this as a part of development instead of in bulk,” explains Valérie Merendet of CTIFL. However, from January 1st, 2022, the packages of fruit and vegetables of less than 1.5kg will no longer be allowed to be packed in plastic, so alternatives must be found rapidly.

CTIFL therefore set up a program in 2019 on packaging films and innovative trays in order to evaluate possible solutions to plastic packaging, in terms of materials and adaptation to distribution channels. Some tests have been carried out on strawberries.

For the test phase, 4 films and 12 types of trays, completely or partially bio-sourced, were examined regarding their quality maintenance and resistance. “The films all helped to find a modified atmosphere adapted to preserve the strawberry, with films that are more or less microperforated, without the appearance of condensation because their properties are more permeable to water than plastic is,” according to the test results. Valérie Merendet adds that “the packing machines will have to be adjusted in order to be able to place those films.”

As for the trays made of polylactic acid (PLA) and molded cellulose (raw, PLA-coated pine and uncoated sugar cane), the results were satisfactory in terms of resistance throughout the circuit and protection of the fruit. It was also observed that rot and mildew appeared later than with PET plastic.

Photo: © saruntorn chotchitima/Shutterstock

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