SINGAPORE – American fast food restaurant chain in collaboration with packaging specialist Tria has introduced environmentally sustainable, compostable packaging for fast foods in an effort to combat the plastic waste crisis in Singapore.

The two companies have launched a six-month-long pilot program to turn single-use packaging and food waste into agricultural fertilizer.

As part of the project, one KFC restaurant in Singapore will replace its non-recyclable boxes, cups and cutlery with Neutria, a quickly degrading plant-based polyester created by Tria.

Tria will collect the old material and compost it with their patented Bio24 digester. The conversion takes 24 hours.

In Singapore, conventional plastic recycling suffers various difficulties. Despite the fact that the food packaging is theoretically recyclable, sorting and cleaning it might end up costing five times as much as creating brand-new packaging from the start which means that the majority of the nation’s plastic is burned.

Plastic waste is only anticipated to rise because there is no incentive to recycle or cut back on plastic usage.

Plastic recycling rates have been incredibly low since 2017, typically ranging between 4% and 6%.

Lynette Lim, General Manager of KFC says: “The fast food company has been looking for new ways to reduce its use of non-recyclable packaging since 2017.

“We’ve previously considered edible spoons, but they could not meet our cost or operational requirements.

“However, Tria was open to extensive redesigns and testing to ensure their product could withstand our daily operating needs and be collected and processed at an acceptable price point.”

Tria asserts that its product can maintain a reasonable level of cost competitiveness without sacrificing sustainability.

Tria’s Chief Executive Ng Pei Kang said: “It’s great that we are experimenting with [sustainable food-ware like reusable cups], but we also need to empathize more with the food brands. How can KFC extend this to the 20,000 outlets they own without changing their operations?”

Ng asserts that with Tria’s model, these fast food chains don’t need to hire more people or get new trash bins. “If it’s not business as usual, it would be very tough [for restaurants to accept these new packaging products].”

Allegedly, 200 to 300 kg of compost may be created for every metric ton of Neutria and food waste put into the digester, according to Tria.

The firm has inked memorandums of understanding with the Norwegian chemical and fertilizer company Yara International and the local rooftop farming company Comcrop to close the loop in plastic waste.

In addition to lowering expenses, the closed-loop technology makes it possible to track the fertilizer, giving potential customers more assurance.

Tria’s technology does have certain limitations, though. The success of the composting system depends on Tria’s capacity to handle and recycle its post-consumer waste.

By enacting an extended producer responsibility (EPR) rule for packaging by 2025, Singapore hopes to cut back on both public spending and landfill trash.

Liked this article? Subscribe to our regular email newsletters with the latest news insights from Africa and the World’s packaging and printing industry. SUBSCRIBE HERE.