Agro-materials based packaging products by Bio-Lutions GmbH have won the Bio-Material of the Year competition at the Nova Institute hosted Bio-Materials conference in Cologne, Germany. For Zelfo Technology this further underscores their prominence in the field of ligno-cellulosic fibre engineering and confirms their confidence in their relationship with BioLutions GmbH. Zelfo Technology is also a previous winner of the award in 2011 which it won for its unique fibre processing system.
“We are offering packaging solutions created using 100% agriculture waste, which is converted into self-binding micro- and nano-fibrillated natural fibres (M/NFNF),” said Eduardo Gordillo, managing director of Upgrading, which will be marketing the technology globally. “Successful trials have been made using wheat straw, because it was available and allowed us to test the principle. However, almost all fibre based crop residue or waste sources are suitable for conversion to packaging using the Zelfo/Upgrading system.”
The material uses only the food producers’ lingo-cellulosic fibre (in this case wheat straw) and requires no additional binder. Designed to meet food industry packaging demands, the resulting products have a robust and flexible form with a smooth surface. Trial mouldings are approximately 250 x 150 x 50mm, but other sizes will be offered as standard; and non-toxic dyes can also be used to colour the product as required.
“Our product range will be orientated around containers for fruit and vegetables at first. These will be offered with and without additional barrier and graphic surface treatments. Fully waterproof vessels will form part of the second wave of products and these are already being reviewed. We can also produce packaging for non-food products,” said Eduardo. “Generally speaking we can offer a substantial range of opaque containers and casings. Transparent packaging is part of a parallel project, which remains ‘secret’ for now.”
As almost all fibre-based crop residue or waste sources are suitable for conversion to this packaging using the Zelfo/Upgrading system, the solution has the potential to add significant value to agricultural residue or waste. According to Eduardo, the concept virtually bypasses the need to use standard cellulose sources (new or recycled) and focuses on any food source producer’s own residue or waste fibre.
As much client interest currently emanates from Europe, trial product development will be handled at the partnership’s pilot plant near Hannover.
“For us it is very important that we engage with businesses that have a substantial ecological impact and who wish to embrace sustainability,” Eduardo explained. “All kinds of packaging, which is currently made from petroleum-based plastics or resource intensive cellulose, should be replaced.”