Takeaway.com introduces algae-made packaging in Belgium

Takeaway.com introduces algae-made packaging in Belgium
Credit: Notpla

Online food delivery service Takeaway.com is introducing cardboard-algae packaging, created by British start-up Notpla, to the Belgium market as an alternative to single-use plastic, L’Écho reports.

For several years, researchers have harnessed the power of brown ocean algae, known as “phaeophyceae,” to create biodegradable alternatives intended to replace fossil oil-based plastics. This is spearheaded by Noptla, which has recently innovated a new form of packaging composed of algae and cardboard.

Takeaway.com (Just Eat) has announced that it will use Noptla’s packaging in the Belgian market. The company is a platform allowing thousands of independent restaurants to accept online orders. Many of these companies receive takeaway packaging and materials directly from Takeaway.com.

The food delivery company aims to eliminate the use of single-use plastic packaging from its partner restaurants with the new product, as the new packaging is both renewable and fully compostable and recyclable. Notpla is already considering expanding its technology to use in the cosmetics and clothing industry.

Algae coating is easily broken down

“We use different types of brown algae, which we mix,” Pierre-Yves Paslier, co-founder of Notpla, told l’Écho. “We tested 50 species of algae to make our choice. The gelatinous part of the seaweed is extracted, just as flour is extracted from corn grains. It is coated and applied to cardboard, which makes it resistant to the fat and moisture of the food.”

The British startup sources its seaweed from farms in France, Spain, Norway, Chile, Japan, and Australia, and works alongside manufacturers to apply the coating and make the containers. The main manufacturer has closed plastic-based packaging manufacturing to make way for the new eco-friendly alternative.

“After use, it is very easy to separate the algae coating from the cardboard,” Paslier said. “The cardboard can be recycled in the paper industry.” The algae coating is easily broken down by microorganisms. Notpla says that it has even tested to see if the packaging can be broken down in the stomach of animals, such as whales.

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This green packaging solution has already been rolled out in Takeaway.com’s UK, German, Irish, Polish, Spanish, and Dutch markets. Now, it’s Belgium’s turn.

“In Belgium, we have around 7,000 restaurant owners on our platform,” explained Siska de Lombaerde, Takeaway.com country manager for Belgium and Luxembourg. “We cover the whole country with our delivery ambassadors and the restaurant owners’ own deliverers. This gives us the opportunity to reach a large part of the takeaway and delivery market, which consumes a lot of packaging. “

While the price of the eco-packaging is higher than for traditional packaging, Takeaway.com is hopeful that Notpla’s production will continue to scale. While it started as a crowdfunded project, Notpla has since raised a total of £15 million in funds.

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