Sugar waste used for food packaging

By Charlotte Eyre

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Sugar

Bagasse, a previously useless waste product from sugar cane, can
now be used to make biodegradeable packaging for food products in
Thailand, its manufacturers claim.

With governments now concerned that Asia's rapid economic growth is leading to disastrous environmental harm, alternatives to plastic packaging are constantly being sought by food companies in the continent. The new "bagasse boxes" are made out of agricultural sugar waste, and so decompose after use, claims its Thai manufacturer, the Biodegradeable Packaging for Environment company. The packaging can be used instead of traditional plastic-based packaging, the company said, and so are both safe for human health and environmentally friendly. According to the newspaper the Bangkok Independent, the company created the packaging because of its breakthrough in developing a binder substance that forces bagasse pulp particles to join together. The resulting substance is both heat- and water-proof, and has passed US Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) standards, the newspaper said. The project was funded in part by the Thai National Innovation Agency (NIA), which donated Bt20m to the project as part of a drive to encourage the development of bio-based products across the country. Over the past five years packaging suppliers have been introducing various forms of biodegradable plastics made from a variety of plants, in the main corn, as a clean alternative to petroleum-based plastics. Some companies predict that the environmentally-friendly packaging market will grow by about 20 per cent a year, as an alternativeto petroleum-based packaging such as the widely-used polyethylene terephthalate (PET). Bagasse is a fibre product produced from sugarcane waste, often thrown away as uneconomical waste. However many companies around the world have started to catch on to the idea that Bagasse can make a cheap but efficient way of packaging foods. Cadbury is possibly the largest company currently using bagasse as part of it's ethical concern plans. In India, the company's Induri plant uses it as a renewable fuel to provide steam for manufacturing.

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