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The Knowledge Transfer Network is helping a new packaging company demonstrate how to cut supermarket’s landfill costs and impact by replacing paper with straw

The Knowledge Transfer Network is helping an innovative new packaging company demonstrate how to cut supermarket’s landfill costs and impact by replacing paper with straw.

Packaging company demonstrates how to cut supermarket’s landfill costs and impact by replacing paper with straw.

It all started with a banana skin. Valueform’s co-founder Jaydeep Korde, learned from his parents that wrapping food in banana skins keeps them fresh and safe to eat, thanks to the plant’s natural sterilising properties. The idea that this theory could be applied to food packaging is the foundation on which Korde’s business has secured two research funding awards, and why it is starting to grab the attention of some of the world’s largest retail organisations.

Valueform uses waste straw and straw composites instead of paper or plastic to make disposable packaging that is both cheaper and more sustainable than alternative materials used today. From disposable medical products for the NHS, to safer food packaging, Valueform’s ability to create materials that are both environmentally friendly and which underpin public wellbeing is attracting attention from a huge range of industries. There has been particular attention from supermarkets, which are taxed according to their volume of food production waste sent to landfill. By using Valueform’s innovative materials they could significantly reduce the amount they have to send, and with it, their financial and environmental impact.

"Food retail packaging made from paper is an £70bn market that is destined to change in the near future," explains Korde. "As developing nations get richer, the demand for safe and sustainable food packaging is only going to go up. The idea we can all keep using paper, plastic and polystyrene packaging is unrealistic and so supermarkets are looking closely at how to create packaging that markets their products effectively whilst reducing their costs. There are going to need to be better solutions developed and this is why we started Valueform."

To get to this stage Valueform has had to prove its credibility to a range of partners and prospective customers. The KTN has played an instrumental role in this process. It recognised the business’ potential and connected the founders to representatives from academia, government and industry that could act as an ecosystem of support around Valueform from across these sectors. The credibility the KTN’s support provides has opened new doors to large organisations including multi-nationals and UK supermarkets, that Valueform would simply never have been able to access alone, helping them find partners such as Bangor University that have given them the credibility and support to secure more than £2m of Government funding for collaborative research that will help commercialise Valueform’s products.

"The support of the KTN gives us the credentials to achieve milestones we cannot possibly make on our own" explains Korde. "From securing the funding required to prove our concepts, to opening doors to new partners with the facilities and connections to accelerate our progress, the KTN has been a critical part of our success to date."