Abel & Cole introduce pioneering compostable packaging film in the UK

Organic food delivery company Abel & Cole has improved the shelf life of its produce with an ingenious Finnish invention: easily processable and transparent biodegradable packaging film.

Abel & Cole is the first company in the UK to use a new kind of compostable packaging film developed by Finnish company Plastiroll. The breathable film has been found to keep fruit and vegetables fresh for longer by enabling them retain their moisture while preventing condensation inside the package.

“We looked at many packaging sources to see what is the best to recycle or compost, what was GMO free and what keeps our product quality as high as possible,” says Will Robinson, Head of Production at Abel & Cole. “And Plastiroll really lived up to its promises.“

Plastiroll’s Bioska 506 film is made from fully compostable and biodegradable raw materials and does not contain any genetically modified organisms. It can be easily disposed of by composting at home or in a normal bin where it decomposes within a few months.

“What makes this film unique is that it’s clear, transparent and completely biodegradable,” says Jukka Suvisalmi, Sales Manager at Plastiroll. “In addition, it’s a multilayered film which means we can combine several biopolymers and tailor the film’s functional properties according to its use, like how it breaths and how much moisture gets through.”

Long life fruit and veg 

According to Plastiroll’s testing the packaging film can extend the shelf life of some fresh produce by up to one month while quickly expiring fruit and vegetables like lettuce, mushrooms and strawberries can last 1-2 weeks longer. The hope is the film will significantly reduce costly food and packaging waste.

For Abel & Cole Plastiroll had to solve a very specific problem: carrots. The company delivers 80,000 boxes of organic food and recipe kits every week and carrots were the number one complaint.

Carrots suffer easily from dehydration which causes them to lose their crunch: “We trialled two to three different products [including cardboard coating and biodegradable plastics] before we picked Plastiroll. We chose them because of their price, great usability and the fact the film really does what it says, it keeps our carrots very fresh,” says Robinson.

Abel & Cole began using Plastiroll's film for carrot bags in March and employees are already convinced by the results.

“Our staff members have seen a clear improvement in the quality of carrots, they stay sweet longer,” Robinson explains. “In addition the film works extremely well on the packaging machine and the bags seal and set immediately.”

In fact Abel & Cole will soon expand the use of the bags for all its carrots: approximately 10 tonnes every week.

Minimal packaging, maximum sustainability 

Abel & Cole have been pioneers in ethically sourced, organic food products and home deliveries since 1988. Sustainability is a core value for the company which is passionate about recycling, favours minimal packaging, donates food waste to charities and plans delivery routes based on eco-efficiency.

“It was extremely important to us that Plastiroll has similar business and ethics,” says Robinson. “It doesn’t matter if we have a compostable item, if we are using a lot of carbon to make it.”

For example, Plastiroll minimises its carbon footprint by powering its Finnish factory with wind energy and reusing waste heat generated in the production process for heating. Furthermore all its 100% compostable products are certified to the European EN13432 standard.

“The potential of this film is huge,” says Suvisalmi. “We have seen great success with food products, but we believe truly transparent biodegradable packaging will also be of major benefit to non-food products."

Plastiroll has identified sectors such as flowers, clothes and magazines since the film has also demonstrated good strength and printability.

Plastiroll’s film has previously been used by major Finnish retail chain Kesko and now enters the international market for the first time with Abel & Cole. The packaging film is part of a family of biodegradable and compostable products Plastiroll has been developing and producing since 1997.

For more information please contact:  

Jukka Suvisalmi, Sales Manager Tel: +358 400 890 443
 jukka.suvisalmi@plastiroll.fi; www.plastiroll.fi  

Download photos: http://www.jenga.fi/kuvapankki/plastiroll

Photos by Emiliano Verrocchio

CAPTION 1: Organic food delivery company Abel & Cole uses Plastiroll’s new compostable and breathable packaging film to ensure its carrots stay fresh and crisp for longer.

CAPTION 2: Will Robinson, Head of Production at Abel & Cole, has been impressed by the quality of carrot bags made from Plastiroll transparent biodegradable film.

CAPTION 3: Will Robinson from Abel & Cole and Jukka Suvisalmi from Plastiroll worked together for over a year to make sure they had the best possible packaging material.

CAPTION 4: Abel & Cole’s ethos is to use as little packaging material as possible, but in the case of carrots Plastiroll’s compostable packaging film helps to improve their quality and freshness without adding waste.