Biodegradable vs Plastic Packaging

CPET Plastic trays (1) vs Wheat starch trays (2) vs Sugarcane trays (3).

What’s the difference…?

Our goal is to no-doubt be as eco-friendly as possible. We do get requests from time to time regarding more sustainable packaging. We have thoroughly looked into and tested the wheat starch, sugarcane & vegetable pulp trays that are available in NZ and for a number of reasons we will not be making the switch soon.

WHO SAID ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY?

The wheat starch and sugarcane trays are NOT Biodegradable, you cannot put them into your green bins, home compost or garden. In order to be biodegradable, they must be commercially treated then composted. This lengthy process includes dipping the trays into a solvent to dissolve the plastic that surrounds them (then they can be commercially composted). At this stage, the only way to ensure this would happen is to send them to commercial facilities. Currently NZ has not caught up with facility demands to depose these types of products. To make this viable in NZ the council/government would need to provide new bins, specifically for these types of trays/bioware that go to special processing and composting facilities. Some companies even claim you can compost these in your home garden. This would take many years to break down and would only apply to trays that don’t have a plastic coating. The lids/film for these trays are also not biodegradable they are just standard PET plastic.

So what happens to them at the moment? In short - Majority end up in landfill because NZ currently lacks the infrastructure to properly process them or recycle them.

CPET: (Trays we use)
Our trays are currently more environmentally friendly because they can be recycled and reused in a standard manner. New Zealand has a great reputation for plastic recycling facilities with a large number of plastic being processed & recycled.

THE SIZE: 
The wheat starch trays are SO MUCH SMALLER! The common size only holds 400ml in volume compared to our standard trays which can hold up to 750ml. Also, they don’t offer many larger sizes so we would be limited to one size. We sell a number of different sizes, from single (500-700ml) to large(700-900ml) to split trays for curries etc.

TRANSPORT:
A lot of the bio trays cannot hold liquid very well. Within a day the bottom starts to give out and seep through the tray. For transporting, this would be a logistical nightmare. The lids/seals for these trays are delicate and often full off/lose seal. Since we courier nationwide, these are not viable.

Conclusion: once the technology and infrastructure is there, we will be in full swing with supporting eco-friendly packaging, but at this time, NZ is far behind and we want our customers to know where we stand with this issue. We also don’t want to lie to consumers and say this product is what it's not.

Thank you!
Berkano Team