Sector News

BASF and StePac partner on chemical recycling MAP packs to fight food waste

February 4, 2023
Chemical Value Chain

BASF and Israeli packager StePac have joined forces to create the “next generation” of fresh produce packaging. BASF will provide StePac with greater flexibility to advance contact-sensitive packaging formats to a higher sustainability standard by supplying StePac with Ultramid Ccycled – a chemically recycled polyamide 6.

Polyamide 6 has a high gas barrier and mechanical properties for tear and puncture resistance.

StePac, which specializes in developing advanced functional packaging solutions, says it is pioneering the use of chemically recycled plastics for packaging fresh perishables.

The company was recently REDcert2 certified – a scheme measuring sustainable biomass, biofuels and bioliquids – to incorporate chemically recycled polyamide 6 into its flexible, modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) products.

StePac’s two brands Xgo and Xtend are based on MAP technology with built-in humidity control that slows respiration inside the packaging, delays the aging processes 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% of the packaging material, with options for integration at a higher percentage.

“This alliance will help strike a balance between creating plastic packaging that is as eco-friendly as possible to keep fresh produce longer through more prudent use of lean plastic films,” said Gary Ward, business development manager of StePac.

Breaking ground on chemical recycling
The upgraded packaging formats will continue to maintain their role of reducing food waste – an important task considering that global food waste is responsible for about 8% of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, continues Ward.

With ChemCycling, BASF says it 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 and accelerates a circular economy by yielding food-grade recycled plastic.

“In a thermochemical process, our partners obtain recycled feedstock from these 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,” explains Dr. Dominik Winter, vice president of BASF’s European polyamides business.

“This helps to replace fossil raw materials and is an important step toward circularity. 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.”

Protecting Colombian passion fruit
The first company to use the Xgo Circular brand will be Colombian passion fruit exporters Jardin Exotics. 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 MAP of the film and its high-water vapor transmission rate make this film unique in its performance, says StePac.

Last year, BASF secured renewable energy agreements to help power more than 20 of its US manufacturing sites. The energy supply will be offset with solar and wind power, and the share of renewable energy will rise to more than 25% of BASF’s total electricity consumption in North America.

Edited by Louis Gore-Langton


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