Cambridge Consultants has revealed a vision for the use of polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) bioplastics in convenience food packaging in order to combat the issue of how businesses deal with the impact of so-called single-use plastics. It is the first stage in the UK-headquartered company’s wider strategy to introduce sustainable bioplastics into the product design toolkit, across a range of industries.
At a time when plastics packaging is coming under the media spotlight, Cambridge Consultants has designed a range of biodegradable plastics products, all served up on a bioplastic tray, in order to demonstrate the potential of PHA bioplastics in the food service industry.
To date, the uptake of bioplastics in food service has been limited by technical performance at high temperatures, cost and limited supply. Whilst there has been limited introduction of cups for cold beverages made from PLA, a bioplastic derived from cornstarch, these are not suitable for hot drinks. Cambridge Consultants evaluated a range of biopolymers and identified materials that are suitable for use in even the most challenging food applications, such as a single-use coffee pod and microwave tray.
Catherine Joce, Sustainability and Circular Economy Lead at Cambridge Consultants, said: “For generations there has been a dependency between economic growth and increased resource consumption and emissions. It doesn’t have to be that way. Businesses across all industries are beginning to realise the potential of innovation to improve both profit and sustainability.”
All items in the set are designed to decompose in industrial composting facilities, meaning they can be disposed of alongside food waste – eliminating the need for sorting, washing and separate bins.
PHAs are biodegradable, readily compostable thermoplastics, produced by microbial fermentation of carbon-based feedstocks. The properties of PHA polymers are customisable, depending on the specific combinations of different monomers incorporated into the polymer chain.
Part of Altran, a global provider of engineering and R&D services, Cambridge Consultants has offices in Cambridge (UK), Boston, Seattle and San Francisco (USA), and Singapore.