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Article | July 2, 2008
Tray puts PLA on the MAP
Seeking sustainability for case-ready meats and vegetables, fresh food packaging provider Coopbox Italia (www.coopbox.com) of Reggio Emilia, Italy, introduced in 2005 a foam food tray made from polylactic acid resin from NatureWorks (www.natureworksllc.com).
Called the NaturalBox, the tray can be wrapped with standard stretch film, “without any modification of the speed or setup of the packaging line,” says Cesare Vannini, who is part of the Packaging System R&D for Coopbox.
For a completely compostable package, users can join the tray with a top-welding PLA film for MAP packaging of fresh meat, fish, poultry, and vegetables. “When the tray is used with PLA,” Vannini says, “it is possible to obtain a 100-percent biodegradable solution. The system is suitable for protective atmosphere packaging [MAP] of fresh foods with a shelf life of up to 15 days.”
To create the foamed PLA tray, Coopbox reduces the resin’s density by about 75%, explains an article in Plastics Technology magazine. This provides packers with a sturdy, yet more lightweight alternative to standard PLA trays.
NaturalBox trays with PLA lidstock are currently being used for several European fresh-food applications, including organic chicken (pictured) from Bodin, the largest poultry supplier in Europe; easy-peel, jumbo, ready-to-eat prawns from U.K. seafood company Dawnfresh Seafoods; and processed meat from Fresh Concept in Belgium.
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