Biodegradable packaging for the food industry

Polylactic acid (PLA) is a compound derived from renewable resources such as corn starch, sugarcane, or tapioca that can be used for the manufacture of plastic packaging materials that have several advantages over plastics produced from oil. Among the companies that are using this material is Depron, a manufacturer of packaging materials based in the Netherlands.

The Dutch concern Depron makes packaging products for the food and non-food industries for markets across Europe.

Unlike conventional plastics derived from oil, plastic packaging made from PLA is biodegradable – over time it will degenerate into harmless natural products. In addition, the production of PLA uses less energy and results in less greenhouse gases than a comparable volume of conventional plastic. Companies using this material can claim to have reduced their carbon footprint.

Polystyrene is gradually being replaced with the more environmentally friendly PLA in Depron’s packaging products.

Depron produces a range of packaging materials for the food industry from PLA. Compared with conventional polystyrene trays PLA trays are slightly more expensive, an issue the company is trying to solve by talking to its suppliers to try and find cost reductions. The trays come in a variety of shapes, sizes and even colours so that the customer is sure to find the one that is perfectly suited to his product. Together with the trays the company also has a range of backing boards made from extruded polystyrene foam. The backing boards can either be “dry,” a Depron patented technology, or standard. The “dry” boards absorb any moisture released by the product and also have a slightly adhesive surface that allows the product to be displayed vertically. The adhesive effect is created by the small holes in the surface of the board which create a slight suction and thereby hold on to the product even if the package is placed vertically. The slight adhesion of the product to the board also facilitates placing the board into a tray. The “dry” boards absorb fluids evenly whether the tray is laid flat or is placed vertically thereby keeping the packaging free of any visible moisture.

The “dry” backing boards use a technology patented by Depron that absorbs the moisture in the package, and keeps the product in position by adhering it in place.

Both the dry boards and the natural boards are made of food grade materials that comply with all the relevant European regulations. They are very light, yet sturdy, retaining the shape of the product and stabilising the packaging. The boards are anti-microbial and available in a range of colours so that the appearance of the product can be highlighted. In addition the standard board can be easily customised with the name or logo of the supplier without compromising its other qualities.

Depron B.V.

Wetering 20

NL 6002 SM Weert

The Netherlands

Tel.: +31 495 458 658

Fax: +31 495 458 680

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

www.depron.nl 

Sales and marketing director: Mr. Pieter Biesheuvel

Activities: Production of packaging material from polystyrene and more recently from polylactic acid (PLA)

Customers: The food and non-food industries

Volumes: About 450m units per year

Markets: Germany, France, Poland, the UK, Austria, Lithuania, Estonia, the Netherlands, Scandinavia, Belgium

Employees: 100

Turnover: EUR20m

Depron was established as a fully owned subsidiary of Hoechst Holland in 1970 to manufacture polystyrene trays for the food packaging industry using the raw materials produced by another Hoechst plant in Breda, Netherlands. In 1997 Hoechst sold the company in a management buyout. Since then Depron started several new product lines including barrier trays in 2001, backing boards for fish production in 2003, and the PLA-based packaging range in 2010.