UK – British supermarket chain, Waitrose has partnered a Scottish biotechnology company, CuanTec to trial a new food packaging film made from langoustine shells.

The partners are exploring the potential for eco food packaging made from the waste shells to address the increasing concerns around plastic packaging and their impact on the environment, reports FoodBev.

According to Waitrose, the new packaging could be used as an alternative to conventional plastic film on some of its fish products in 12-18 months’ time.

If successful, the innovation will see the supermarket chain eliminate single-use plastics and unnecessary waste from some of its products.

“While we are still at an experimental stage, the potential for this new packaging material is incredibly exciting,” said Karen Graley, Waitrose & Partners packaging manager.

“Conventional plastic films can’t currently be recycled, reused or composted – so finding an alternative which doesn’t go into landfill would be very significant in helping us reach our target of ensuring that all own-label packaging is widely recyclable, reusable or home compostable by 2023.”

As consumers demand for more sustainable ways of packaging, retailers are under pressure to minimise the amount of unnecessary food packaging in their stores.

“For us this technology represents the perfect virtuous circle,” said CuanTec CEO Dr Cait Murray-Green

“As well as protecting food on sale to consumers, it gives value to what would have been a waste product and takes single-use plastic out of the food system, meaning that less waste goes to landfill.”

The partnership further builds on Waitrose’s sustainability initiatives which has seen the retailer remove all takeaway disposable coffee cups from its stores.

In 2016, Waitrose launched pasta boxes that were partly made from salvaged food waste, an environmentally friendly packaging option, made from 15% food waste.

In September last year, Iceland introduced paper bands instead of plastic bags in its multipacks of bananas while Marks and Spencer in 2017 launched a new lasering method to label avocados in a bid reduce paper waste.