Game-changing solution to supermarket plastic wrap invented by two south Aussie businesses

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 24th September 2019

Two local, South Australian businesses may have just invented the game-changing solution to plastic food packaging, catching the eye of overseas exporters with the potential to change the way the world buys produce; reducing plastic and food waste.

George Antonas, Director of IG Fresh Produce and Scott Morton of Peak Fresh, two local South Australian produce and packaging businesses have spent the last 12 months developing a 100% biodegradable, compostable cucumber wrap after a conversation Antonas and John-Paul Drake had last year.

John-Paul Drake, from the South Australian family-owned and operated Drakes Supermarkets asked Antonas why the industry can’t develop a 100% compostable wrap for fruit/vegetables and other supermarket products, rather than continue to use the environmentally damaging plastic shrink-wrap.

“Lately, there has been more and more talk with customers asking why there can’t be an environmentally friendly alternative to plastic wrap and they are right to ask that question.” John-Paul Drake, Director of Drakes Supermarkets said.

“I too have been thinking the same and had the conversation with George last year. 12 months on, we are really excited that George and his team have invented this compostable wrap which is a huge game changer for the supermarket and grocery industry. Not only can we continue to provide the freshest possible produce but we know that the wrap is 100% compostable and won’t end up in our oceans or stuck in landfill.”

Antonas has plans for the 100% biodegradable and compostable wrap to include other fresh fruit packaging and meat products over the next 12 months.

“We have had strong interest from a potential investment partner in Qatar who travelled to Adelaide for the launch of this product with Drakes. The potential for this compostable wrap is limitless and the interest from the rest of the country and internationally is fantastic to see.” George Antonas explained. “We could make a significant change in the world with this product.”

The rapid growth of plastic food packaging is projected to become a $370 billion market next year. According to the National Geographic, food packaging remains the second most common trash item found during the Ocean Conservancy’s annual beach clean-up, with nine of the top ten items retrieved relating to food and drink. Research carried out in 2013 by EPA in NSW found that the density of plastic in Australian waters is up to 40,000 pieces per square kilometre.

With those numbers, it comes as little surprise that the way we buy and consume food is having such a huge impact on our environment – in particularly our oceans.

Earlier this year, Woolworths removed packaging from its fruit and vegetables after customer pressure to reduce plastic waste yet raised the question of what is worse, the environmental impact of plastic packaging or that of food wastage.

On some vegetables, plastic wrapping increases its shelf life, reducing food waste once purchased. Continental cucumbers in particular, between three to 14 days. However, Zero Waste suggested that the carbon footprint of food waste can be higher than that of plastic. Whilst plastic does not break down in landfill, food waste does but when doing so, produces carbon dioxide and methane gases which are dangerous greenhouse gas emissions.

“Technical options such as improved harvesting techniques, on-farm storage, infrastructure, transport, packaging, retail and education can reduce food loss and waste across the supply chain,” the IPCC explained in its recently released report.

Antonas’ 100% biodegradable and compostable wrap is a huge step forward in reducing food wastage, keeping produce fresher for longer and hopefully reducing our carbon footprint.

Drakes Supermarkets will be trialling the new product in South Australia over the next three weeks before the product will be made available to other supermarket chains. Drakes have 38 stores in South Australia.

“We are always striving to provide our customers a better experience and we couldn’t be more excited for our customers to be the first involved in this new plastic-free initiative which was born out of South Australia”, Tim Cartwright, General Manager Fresh Foods at Drakes Supermarkets said.

The launch of the biodegradable, compostable plastic wrap took place on September 18th at Drakes Supermarkets Wayville store by South Australian Minister for Trade, David Ridgeway, Assistant Minister to the Premier, Jing Lee as well as John-Paul Drake, Tim Cartwright and George Antonas. Flying in especially for the launch was Collette Morman, potential investment partner from Qatar.