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     Potatopak product lifecycle
    A compostable take-away container made by Potatopak from waste potato starch has won the 2011 Unpackit Award for New Zealand’s best packaging.

    The Unpackit Worst Packaging Award for the worst packaging sold in New Zealand stores has been won by Sunsweet Ones, individually wrapped prunes imported from America.

    The awards were decided by nearly 9,000 public votes. The winners were chosen from a shortlist of eight examples of the best packaging in New Zealand, and a shortlist of eight examples of the worst.

    Unpackit spokesperson Sophie Ward said Potatopak is at the forefront of a new way of thinking about packaging.

    The company is turning a waste stream, potato starch, into a valuable product. At the end of its life, the Potatopak container provides nutrients back into soil, or can be fed to fish, birds or worms. It’s a winner whichever way you look at it.”

    Potatopak is made from starch which collects in water when potatoes are cut up for french fries.

    When asked how he felt about winning the award, owner Richard Williams replied “It’s wonderful, awesome. I’m just rapt.”

    He said he had strong competition from the other finalists in the Best Award, but thought that his sustainable manufacturing process had given him an edge.

    “The whole concept of using waste to create an alternative product which doesn’t go into the landfill is hard to beat.”

    Mr Williams said his company has been working with scientists from Plant &Food Research in Lincoln for the last five years to produce a food-grade, 100% compostable coating for Potatopak which will make it suitable for meat and hot/wet foods. The products will then be microwaveable and be able to hold coffee. He expected the product would be ready to launch at the end of the year.

    Ms Ward said Potatopak meat trays could solve a big packaging problem in New Zealand.

    “Currently meat from supermarkets is sold on polystyrene meat-trays which can’t be recycled because they’re contaminated with blood, so a huge number end up in rubbish bins every week. A meat-tray made out of compostable potato starch could reduce that waste stream."
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