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NZ funding boost for biodegradable seafood packaging. A new project in New Zealand will help accelerate the production of a compostable and biodegradable alternative to polystyrene packaging used in the seafood industry.

The Government is contributing $472,500 to the $1.17 million project through the Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI) Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund (SFF Futures). The funding will be used to fast-track the production of bio-based commercial packaging ZealaFoam.

“We’re supporting Biopolymer Network (BPN) to scale up their manufacturing technology to allow packaging companies to produce ZealaFoam on a commercial scale,” says Steve Penno, MPI’s director of investment programmes.

“BPN has been working closely with moulders and manufacturers to ensure that ZealaFoam can be easily produced on their existing machinery.

“This project will trial the effectiveness of existing polystyrene infrastructure so that packaging companies can adopt ZealaFoam to package seafood products more sustainably.”

Sarah Heine, CEO of Biopolymer Network, says the commercial use of ZealaFoam will offer New Zealand’s seafood industry more plant-based sustainable packaging options, help futureproof the industry, and reduce environmental impacts.

“Many export destinations have introduced taxes on polystyrene or are choosing to ban it entirely,” says Ms Heine.

“We’re excited about producing an alternative that’s sustainable, but also performs well and has the functionality of traditional materials. People want to see change, but they also want performance.”

Steve Penno says this project aligns with the Government’s Fit for a Better World roadmap for the food and fibre sector aimed at lifting productivity, sustainability and creating jobs to drive New Zealand’s recovery from COVID-19.

“The introduction of ZealaFoam will help futureproof the commercial packaging industry and preserve jobs, particularly if traditional plastic packaging is phased out down the track.”

Photo credit: Biopolymer Network