BASF SE and StePac Ltd. have joined forces to create the next generation of sustainable packaging specifically for the fresh produce sector. Supplying StePac with its Ultramid® CcycledTM, a chemically recycled polyamide 6, BASF will provide its partner greater flexibility to advance the sustainability of food contact materials within a circular economy.
StePac is pioneering the use of chemically recycled plastics for the packaging of fresh perishables. The company was recently REDcert2 certified to incorporate chemically recycled polyamide 6 into its flexible, modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) products. StePac’s two brands XgoTM and Xtend® are based on MAP technology with built-in humidity control which effectively slows respiration inside the packaging, delays the aging process, inhibits microbial decay, and preserves the quality and nutritional value of produce during prolonged storage and long-haul shipments. Ultramid Ccycled will make up 30 percent of the packaging material, with options for integration at a higher percentage.
With ChemCyclingTM, BASF has been breaking new ground in the recycling of plastic waste. Chemical recycling primarily involves plastic waste that would have been used for energy recovery or landfilled. It complements mechanical recycling, accelerating a circular economy by yielding food-grade recycled plastic. In a thermochemical process, BASF partners obtain recycled feedstock from end-of-life plastics, which is then fed into the BASF Verbund. Using a mass balance approach, the raw material can be attributed to specific products, such as Ultramid Ccycled. As chemically recycled plastics have the same quality and safety as virgin material, the scope of plastics that can be recycled for fresh produce packaging is widened.
Colombian passion fruit exporter Jardin Exotics S.A.S. will be the first to use the new packaging brand Xgo™ Circular™. Supplied as film for horizontal form fill-and-seal, the packaging’s MAP properties will slow the ripening process and preserve the quality of the fruit during the long sea voyage from Colombia to Europe. Packing-at-source in the final retail packaging format also eliminates the need for repacking after arrival. For passion fruit, the combination of the produce specific modified atmosphere properties of the film together with its high-water vapor transmission rate are what makes the film unique in its performance.