“Packaging made from Elephant grass is completely compostable”, says Marco Romeyn of the Dutch company, ProQare Packaging. ProQare sells this kind of packaging. It was developed by a company called NNRGY. It was introduced to the market under the name, Vibers. “It has been certified as safe to use for foodstuffs, and we have found production partners that can make the end product.” Currently, the packaging is most suited to dry products such as fruit and vegetables, and bread. Work is, however, being done to make the packaging suitable for the remaining product groups in the near future.
Miscanthus Giganteus, better known as Elephant grass, is used as the basis of this packaging. The idea to use this to manufacture the packaging from this substance came from Jan-Govert van Gilst of NNRGY, a Dutch innovations company that is active in the bio-based sector. He was able to use this crop as a granulated pellet which forms the basis of the packaging material. “There are major advantages to using Elephant grass. It can be grown in the Netherlands and does not require soil that is used for foodstuffs production. It removes four times as much CO2 from the air as a forest filled with trees and grows pesticide-free. Elephant grass can also grow on the same patch of land for 20 years without it causing any soil damage. Another benefit is that birds do not like to sit in this grass. This means it can easily be planted around airports, which in turn, can reduce the nuisance caused by birds,” says Marco.
“This product is more expensive than traditional oil-based plastics but can compete well with foldable cardboard, for instance. On a price level, sustainable packaging can compete with traditional plastics. If we do not start developing sustainable packaging, we will always keep using traditional oil-based plastics. The earth is warming up, the world’s population is growing, and we are consuming more than ever. Vibers’ packaging taxes are also much lower”, continues Marco. “We expect that the sectors in the market, including the fruit and vegetable sector, will be pleased with this 100% sustainable packaging. With this packaging, we can take responsibility and can reduce the demand for traditional plastics.”