Case Study

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Waitrose to use Welsh grass for food packaging

  • Project led by Bangor University and Aberystwyth University and informed by industrial partners.
  • Support of £600,000 from Welsh Government’s Academic Expertise for Business programme.
  • Collaborate with six industrial partners (including Waitrose) representing all links in the supply chain – from biomass cultivation and harvesting to processing and commercial end-use.

The Sustainable Ryegrass Products project is led by the BioComposites Centre at Bangor University and the Institute of Biological Environmental and Rural Sciences at Aberystwyth University and informed by industry partners including Waitrose.

Funding support of almost £600,000 from the Welsh Government’s Academic Expertise for Business programme, which will see a biorefining process used to isolate and extract sugars and other components from ryegrass and convert them into low carbon products. According to the two universities, these will include biofuels, platform chemicals and pulp-moulded packaging products for retail applications such as food packaging.

The project will collaborate with six industrial partners representing all links in the small and medium enterprises supply chain – from biomass cultivation and harvesting to processing and commercial end-use – and will demonstrate the production of these materials at a pilot scale. To inform the process, Waitrose will research public engagement in the bioeconomy and the adoption of green products.

Quentin Clarke, head of sustainability at Waitrose, said: ‘Waitrose is working hard to use easy to recycle, sustainable materials for its packaging, so there is a natural synergy between this project and Waitrose’s approach to ‘Treading Lightly’ and reducing its environmental footprint. Moving to easily recycled fibre-based packaging for foods, where this can show positive environmental benefit, is something we’re keen to develop and a key element of this project will be engaging with the public from an early stage to ensure we are delivering solutions that meet their needs.’