NEWS: University's 'plastic alternatives'

Following the success of food packing made from grass at a UK supermarket, scientists are now looking at creating other products using straw and maize.

Researchers at Bangor University want to reduce plastic packaging by using leftover farming materials to create trays for fresh fruit, vegetables and eggs.

The university has already developed egg boxes from grass which are used by Waitrose.

Bangor’s BioComposites Centre are working with Makerere University in Uganda on a scheme involving female-led smallholders.

It involves using their waste maize (called stover) to create the products making use of the leaves, stalks and cobs left in the field after harvesting.

Dr Stephen Lwasa from Makerere University’s, College of Agriculture & Environmental Sciences said: "Post-harvest losses will be reduced, the product quality will be maintained, and opportunities to market these packaging materials and products in high end markets, will increase streams of incomes for the players involved.”

Dr Adam Charlton, Senior Research fellow at the University’s BioComposites Centre said: “The green egg boxes and other moulded food packaging produced from our original concept can be found in Waitrose supermarkets across the country and have been well received by customers.

"This project is an opportunity to share our experience of collaborative research to help Uganda’s emerging bioeconomy to develop further.

"This type of technology transfer can lead to new products which will hopefully create a new income stream for some of Uganda’s agricultural small holders.’’

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