A biodegradable and compostable fast food packaging range made of bio-waste from the sugar cane industry in India has won a top industry award for innovation.
The 28-strong line-up from Ask Packaging, which includes burger boxes, fish and chip boxes, plates and bowls, took the Product Innovation Award at the Coffee Shop Innovation Expo earlier this month. The award pays tribute to a concept that demonstrates excellence in innovation and design and which has made a significant impact on the industry in 2021.
The 100% natural sugarcane bagasse products were launched in 2016 by Ask Packaging and are made using the waste pulp leftover from the processing of sugar cane on the company’s agricultural land in India.
The award followed a 15-minute pitch to judges in front of a live audience in which the packaging was praised for providing a viable alternative to plastic and polystyrene as well as contribution to lowering carbon emissions.
Anish Khinda, owner of Ask Packaging, comments: “A lot of people buy bagasse packaging from China, but it has to import the raw material as China doesn’t grow sugar cane. India, where we have our agricultural land, is the second-largest producer of sugar cane behind Brazil so immediately we are reducing the carbon footprint of having to import any raw material.
“Secondly, whereas previously the pulp leftover from the processing of the sugar cane was burned and the emissions released into the atmosphere, we’re now not burning it, we’re turning it into packaging. We’ve found a solution for this product and we are offsetting our carbon footprint quite drastically.”
The company’s commitment to providing a use for a waste product impressed the panel of judges, especially Cathy Port, head of food at Costa Coffee, who commended Ask on a passionate presentation.
Anish adds: “It was a real lump in the throat moment when we won the award because it’s involved a lot of sleepless nights and investment to get this project off the ground. And to be recognised by someone in the food and drinks industry such as Cathy at Costa Coffee was a proud moment for all the hard work we've put in behind the scenes.”
With more and more fish and chip shops looking to reduce their environmental impact, Anish believes the need for sustainable packaging will increase and he hopes to leverage the win to drive future growth.
The Ask Packaging range is biodegradable and fully compostable, both at home and in commercial sites.