This year marked the fifteenth anniversary of the Global Bioplastics Award, the prestigious annual honour recognising the achievements in the bioplastics over the past year.
This year’s Award was presented, as always, by the leading trade publication bioplastics MAGAZINE, at the close of the first day of the European Bioplastics conference, which took place this year as a hybrid event 30 November - 1 December in Berlin, Germany.
Unlike in previous years, however, the winner was this year not chosen by a jury. Instead, this year, an award election was held, with the recipient of the award being selected by conference attendees, both on-site in Berlin and online.
This year’s winner was Gruppo Fabbri Vignola (Vignola, Italy) for their innovative Home Compostable Nature Fresh cling film.
Nature Fresh is the first cling film worldwide suitable for both manual and automatic food packaging. The film, which is certified as Home Compostable and Industrial Compostable (EN 13432) is based on the BASF certified compostable polymers ecoflex® and ecovio®.
It is also the first of its range to combine optimal breathability for an extended shelf life of fresh food with high transparency and excellent mechanical properties for automatic packaging: its tensile strength, elongation at break, breathability, transparency, gloss, extensibility, and anti-fogging are comparable to those of traditional films. At the same time, though, Nature Fresh shows a better water vapour transmission rate, which is essential for optimal packaging to preserve the freshness and the nutritional and organoleptic properties of food, which helps to prevent food waste. The shelf-life of perishables such as mushrooms, for instance, is five times longer using Nature Fresh; for lettuce it is seven times as long.
Nature Fresh can be used in minimal thickness and is also printable with compostable inks.
It is food-contact approved according to the US and European standards and since no plasticisers are used, it can pack any kind of fresh foods, even those with high fat content.
“It took us five to six years to develop this product,” said Stefano Mele, CEO of Gruppo Fabbri Vognola in a brief video statement on accepting the honour, “so it is not an ‘overnight’ innovation. It took us a lot of time and a lot of partners contributed to it, for which I am really very grateful . And I am very proud that we have been able to win this really important bioplastics award.” He added that Nature Fresh has already been produced in hundreds of tonnes and tens of thousands of reels with millions of packages already released onto the market. ”It has surprised us how many millions of packages have already been produced with this compostable cling film.”
The runner up was Refork from the Czech Republic. That company has developed a new material based on sawdust, waste from wood processing combined with natural polymers PHB(V). Their first iconic product is a fork, but the company is already developing a toothbrush for the dental market to launch early next year.
Last but not least, third place went to the bio!TOY conference. The conference, which is co-run by bioplastics Magazine, was anonymously nominated as a finalist.
The 3D-printed award itself is an example of what can be made from bioplastics. Comprised of two different PHA/PLA blends, filled with respectively wood and stone flour, the much-coveted trophy was once again made available by colorFabb in Belfeld, the Netherlands.