Plastics are the bane of our existence. We all want to use less without changing much about the convenience or ordering Chinese take-away. from the same country that brought us Waze to help us get around cities, is W-Cycle, a company that tackles plastic one-time use products by turning them into sugar.
While not suitable for all kinds of food packaging, W-Cycle claims to be the best alternative in being able to handle wet, even super greasy food that needs to be microwaved. The company uses scraps from the sugarcane, aiming to replace an uncontrollable amount of plastics and now microplastics heading to our seas and in the air we breath. Some groups at Oxford are assessing plastics in our seas, and others like Boyan Slat are trying to clean them up at sea but the pace of production and pollution is outrunning the solutions.
W-Cycle’s solution called SupraPulp is a plastic-free packaging product made of sugarcane waste that is fully compostable, safe, yet durable enough to be used for greasy, wet, or hot food. Packaged food with SupraPulp can be frozen and heated with either an oven, convection oven, steam cooker or microwave, the company tells Green Prophet.
“Dispose SupraPulp packages the same way as you would your salad,” says Lior Itai, CEO and co-founder of W-Cycle. “This food-grade, compostable packaging is a one-to-one replacement for its plastic counterpart. There are other compostable solutions on the market, but SupraPulp has game-changing functionality consumers need when they want to heat, freeze, or microwave convenience food products.
“Plus, SupraPulp trays have a luxury look and feel compared to plastic, aluminum, or bioplastic containers.”
It could replace plastic, aluminium, or foam containers and is made from 100% sugarcane fibers, called bagasse, which are the dry, pulpy fibrous matter that remains after sugarcane or sorghum stalks are crushed to extract their juice.
The end product is compostable, non-coated, toxin and metal free. The containers have unique characteristics compared to standard bagasse containers that make them the ideal alternative to plastic trays for food products, especially fresh, frozen, or prepared consumer packaged meals.
While standard pulp products cannot sustain liquids and oils, SupraPulp containers are oil- and water-resistant and avoid any absorption or leakage. CPET plastic trays are typically used in for ready-meal packaging.
Fresh meat, poultry & sea food are also commonly packed in plastic (PE, PET, Styrofoam) due to their juice runoff. SupraPulp is a great replacement as it will not absorb them, leak or soften. It can be frozen to -40°F and reheated to 518°F, inviting a comprehensive range of food applications. After use, the package can be disposed of as organic waste.
Other green solutions such as bioplastic made from the whole plant need to be specially grown, harvested, and processed. SupraPulp is made from the waste upcycled from sugarcane, or similar crops such as wheat or bananas.
“Covid19 is drawing consumers’ attention to how we treat our planet and the future of the environment,” stresses Joseph Siani, CTO and co-founder of W-Cycle.
“There is greater demand — and pressure — on brands to offer environmentally responsible products. Providing a compostable solution for ready meals, and meat products allows us to help food manufactures as well as consumers ditch plastic containers and create a cleaner environment.”