Notpla’s seaweed-based F&B packaging lands first-ever EU “plastic-free” certification
06 Nov 2023 — UK-based Notpla, which produces plastic alternative F&B, household and cosmetics packaging from seaweed, has been recognized by the Dutch government as the first and only completely plastic-free packaging in the Netherlands. The company’s material is also the first to be confirmed as such by any European state following the introduction of the EU Single Use Plastics Directive (SUPD) in 2021.
Following the announcement, Notpla has signed an agreement with Dutch packager Conpax to distribute F&B packaging throughout the Benelux region.
Under SUPD stipulations, plastics are defined as materials consisting of polymers either chemically modified and/or synthetically polymerized. Certain single-use plastic items, like cutlery, plates, straws and stirrers, plastic bags, packets and wrappers and expanded polystyrene F&B cups and containers were prohibited or required labeling or taxes.
Many industry players have since made self-regulated claims to be plastic-free, but the Dutch government began investigating such claims through its environmental authority — the ILT.
The ILT, along with Eunomia Research & Consulting, tested thousands of materials over nine months. Many were products with aqueous dispersion coating, which contains microplastics. These coatings are usually used as grease barriers on fiber-based materials.
Notpla packaging sidesteps a Dutch plastics tax introduced this year.Notpla uses natural extracts found in seaweed without any chemical modifications and is able to provide the grease and moisture resistance required by food boxes to perform their function.
“This [recognition] sets Notpla apart and aligns perfectly with our mission to reduce society’s dependence on plastic. We look forward to helping Dutch restaurant owners meet their plastic reduction goals,” says Pierre-Paslier, co-founder of Notpla.
Disappearing “without a trace”
Where conventional containers, as well as bioplastic alternatives, contain fossil-based coatings — often PFAS “forever chemicals” — Notpla’s solution can be recycled with existing paper streams or composted at home, disappearing in the same way as fruit waste.
The company says the impact of the recognition will be “immediately felt” by consumers and businesses across the Netherlands, with vendors who adopt Notpla no longer needing to charge the plastic tax to their customers.
Niall Russell, head of Marketing at Notpla, recently told Packaging Insights that the claims made by many companies to be “plastic-free” indicate a “huge loophole” in the regulations.
“This loophole stems from the ambiguous definition of ‘main structural’ component in the plastic definition. Until addressed, this argument will continue to be used to exonerate any type of synthetic coating or additive that very much is plastic, like polylactic acid or water-based dispersion coatings,” he says.
After the ILT’s recognition, Notpla and Conpax began a strategic partnership to distribute seaweed-based food packaging throughout the Benelux market.
This collaboration aims to replace a minimum of 15 million items of single-use plastic that are thrown away every day in the Netherlands.
Foodservice businesses and the wider industry can purchase Notpla’s food packaging from January 2024.
“We are very pleased with the cooperation between Notpla and Conpax as it ensures the availability of unique seaweed-coated folding carton products in the Benelux,” says Roy Suiskens, Director of Conpax.
“From our own facilities in the Netherlands, we will design, manufacture and supply new sustainable single-use products made from Notpla coated board and distribute this to the Benelux market who are calling out for this exact solution.”
By Louis Gore-Langton
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