Environmentally-aware consumers in Belgium can shop with good conscience at Delhaize supermarkets thanks to the introduction of fully compostable packaging for selected fresh produce.

The supermarket chain is testing NatureWorks® PLA, 100 per cent nature-based packaging, as an alternative to traditional petroleum-based plastics for a range of food containers and bags in its Aalst store.

In-store prepared salads, and organic and traditional breads are among the foods being sold in NatureWorks PLA packaging. Currently, transparent delicatessen salad trays and the window on bread bags used by its bakeries are made from the natural material. Stickers and posters are ensuring that shoppers are aware that the packaging can be commercially composted.

NatureWorks PLA (polylactide) is completely derived from annually renewable resources. The technology used to produce the material harvests the starch stored in these annually renewable resources (eg corn) into natural plant sugars. The sugar is then fermented into lactic acid which is used to create a clear plastic known as polylactide. NatureWorks PLA containers decompose in industrial compost according to standard EN13432.

Philippe Henri Heymans, Delhaize, comments: “The Delhaize company wants to insure that its activities have a minimum impact on the environment, and NatureWorks PLA packaging is one of a range of on-going initiatives being introduced to shoppers in Belgium.

“NatureWorks PLA is a great step forward in helping us to replace traditional plastic materials with an environmentally-friendly alternative without having to raise prices”, continues Philippe Henri Heymans. “To the naked eye, there is no difference between the NatureWorks PLA containers and those used previously; and they offer the same high quality in terms of hygiene and food safety. We are looking forward to assessing the response of our shoppers between now and the end of this year.”

Dennis McGrew NatureWorks PLA adds: “NatureWorks PLA is 100 per cent natural, derived from constantly renewable raw materials. As an extra bonus for environmentally-conscience consumers, the production of NatureWorks PLA uses 20 to 50 per cent less fossil fuel than traditional plastic. We are delighted to see the benefits of NatureWorks PLA packaging reaching more and more people in Europe.”

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