Plant Pack: sustainable revolution in the packaging market
20 September 2021
The packaging material made of puffed maize grits offers similar performance to that of polystyrene and consists 100% of bio-based raw materials
- Plant Pack is a new packaging material that is made entirely of bio-based raw materials.
- In terms of performance and structure it is similar to polystyrene, but it is sustainable and even compostable in the process.
- The material is shock-proof, insulating, mouldable into nearly any shape and thus ideally suited as transport, product and shipping packaging – so for all types of packaging that offer protection for products (e.g. for household appliances, food, pharmaceutical products).
With Plant Pack, manufacturers and retailers now have a sustainable alternative to well-known packaging materials like expanded polystyrene. Made from puffed maize grits, the new material has similar shock-absorbing and insulating characteristics to those of expanded polystyrene – but it is better for the environment. This is because Plant Pack is made 100% of bio-based raw materials and can be discarded in an organic waste bin or even as compost at home. With this spectrum of characteristics, it is ideally suited as a sustainable replacement for fossil fuel-based transport and product packaging – e.g. for electronic appliances – as well as for the protection of temperature-sensitive goods in the food and pharmaceutical sectors.
Sustainable in production and disposal
Packaging is often used only once before it is disposed of again. This is why it is so important that the materials show a good environmental balance. Plant Pack is sustainable from start to finish and causes 51% less CO2 output over its entire lifecycle as compared to expanded polystyrene. It is made of special maize grits, a plant-based residual product that is generated in large quantities when corn is processed and is not suitable to be used any further for food production. With the help of a tried and tested process, the maize grits are puffed, their structure thereby changing. After adding a natural binding agent, customised mouldings can be made from it – these can be adapted perfectly to the respective packaged good and thus protect it in an optimal way. The material is also issued with a thin polylactic acid (PLA) layer, which allows it to repel moisture.
Plant Pack is comprised 100% of bio-based raw materials and is completely free of fossil fuels. After being used, the material decomposes in a short period of time and can therefore be industrially composted or even discarded as compost at home. It only releases the amount of CO2 into the atmosphere that the corn plant originally stored during its growth in the process. Alternatively, Plant Pack can be disposed of in an equally environmentally compatible way in a bin for organic waste.
“We are very pleased to finally be able to offer a real alternative to expanded polystyrene with Plant Pack. Our packaging material can replace fossil fuel-based materials in many situations in future and contributes to making the packaging market more sustainable,” says Stefan Schult, Managing Director of Plant Pack GmbH.
High performance and an array of applications
Plant Pack can be applied in a variety of areas for which in the past traditional packaging materials such as expanded polystyrene were used. Its impact resistance makes it the perfect transport protection for household appliances or furniture. These products are thus optimally protected as they travel from manufacturer to retailer and on to the end customer. Plant Pack also cuts a fine figure as an inlay for product packaging. As it can be manufactured to form exact shapes, it offers all products optimal protection. Thanks to its insulating characteristics, Plant Pack is also suitable as shipping or delivery packaging for temperature-sensitive goods such as food and pharmaceutical products.
With strong partners at hand
Plant Pack GmbH is a sister company of Nordgetreide GmbH & Co. KG. The northern German company with a Europe-wide market presence has specialised in the gentle processing of grain to food. This proximity between the two companies brings about important synergies: large amounts of the residue maize grits are generated during production at Nordgetreide. The maize grits are not suitable to be used any further for food production and are utilised to manufacture Plant Pack going forward.
The Georg August University in Göttingen developed the production process; it is based on extensive and patented research work. Plant Pack GmbH holds the exclusive rights to use this patent in the packaging application area for the European market.
Plant Pack GmbH started the pilot phase in July 2021 and is developing individual and sustainable packaging solutions with companies showing interest. Its cooperation partner Kurtz Ersa provides technical support.