BioPak's chief executive Gary Smith says that a willingness to consider the broader costs of packaging, not just immediate monetary costs, can support innovation in fresh produce packaging.
For BioPak to innovate, they must work alongside other food producers. BioPak's mission to create sustainable, environmentally friendly packaging is driven by innovation and experimentation – but, as Smith says, the success of this goal is a collaborative effort. While the company may love developing new solutions, without the support of retailers, packers, and producers, the industry will not be able to innovate. "We only have limited resources to get our ideas to the next point," Smith says. "What is important is that there is an economic demand for the product. We need people in the positions of power to make decisions that change habits and create real change."
BioPak works with Woolworths and its suppliers to create and implement planet friendly produce packaging. Recently, BioPak has been working with Woolworths to implement pulp-based, home compostable, and recyclable tomato punnets, and fruit and vegetable trays. "There were significant challenges, including the need for massive investment from us, the tomato producer, and the retailer, Woolworths," says Smith. The main driver for producers is cost, and according to Smith Woolworths has been open to accepting that. The cost of switching to new packaging can only be a few cents per unit, but this can add 30-40% to overall costs. "Woolworths, their suppliers, and BioPak have taken the burden of the additional cost to drive sustainability," Smith says.
BioPak hopes for this kind of cooperation across the industry as it continues to work on packaging innovations, the latest of which is a home compostable and recyclable mushroom punnet. There have been challenges – for example, the pulp material used in the packaging was absorbing some of the moisture from the mushrooms, which, while it did not change the taste or the shelf life, affected the mushrooms' aesthetics – but BioPak is nearing the final stages with a pulp tray that they believe will not adversely affect the produce.
Information taken from BioPak's website. Read about how food producers are going green and how you can make a difference by switching to BioPak, on our blog.
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