A UK startup, which uses seaweed to create recyclable packaging, is teaming up with Waitrose and  fresh fruit producer Blue Skies to help cut plastic waste across the Sub-Saharan African supply chain.

Founded in 2020, Kelpi, which last year secured £3m in seed funding, makes a seaweed-based coating for paper and coat packaging, removing plastic waste from supermarket products.

The deal with Blue Skies and Waitrose is an 18-month project which will see Kelpi produce prototype and pilot bio-material packaging solutions for plastic-free packaging to be brought to market in 2025.

The overall aim of the initiative is to cut plastic waste across the fresh produce supply chain from Sub-Saharan Africa to the UK and Europe.

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Plastic packaging is used by the fresh produce industry throughout the world, but pollution caused by waste plastics is a growing problem, particularly in regions with limited waste management infrastructure as well as more generally across the globe.

Waitrose packaging technologist Ben Fiennes said: “Waitrose & Partners is fully committed to minimising our impact on the environment by reducing waste and minimising the impact of single-use packaging on the environment.

“This programme is our latest initiative in helping to develop world- leading, innovative solutions and we are delighted to support Kelpi in providing solutions to current sustainability challenges.”

Hugo Adams, chief commercial officer at Kelpi said:“Kelpi is delighted to be working with Waitrose & Partners and Blue Skies to apply our unique seaweed-based biomaterials to deliver recyclable, biodegradable alternatives to the worldwide problem of single use plastic packaging in fresh cut fruit.”

Waitrose, which has its own UK farm, is using manure-fuelled tractors to drive emissions down.

A report in August last year found Waitrose and Asda failed to engage with suppliers when creating a sustainability strategy, according to new research by Supply Pilot.

Climate crisisInnovationMaterials and packagingNature and the environmentSocial sustainabilitySupply ChainTransport

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