A student-led packaging design for an energy ball company using leftover peanut husks has won a global award for sustainable, innovative packaging.

The Australian Institute of Packaging (AIP) entered seven Monash student teams for the first time into the global WorldStar Student Awards, where they represented Australian innovations from a field of over 300 submissions.

Of the seven submissions, all were recognised, with one team winning a Silver in the Sustainable Packaging Design category.

Through the industry-focused, student-led New Frontiers Program at Monash Food Innovation (MFI), the team that won the silver partnered with energy ball company, Camel, and developed sustainable packaging from peanut shells/hulls, which is a major by-product in its peanut-based energy ball manufacturing process.

This by-product, or waste, traditionally headed straight to landfill or burnt adding to atmospheric CO2. The student team began to think about ways to valorise this by-product and turn it into something useful.

Using 30 per cent peanut husks in the production of fibreboard food packaging, they saw this as a means of valorising food waste and aligning the packaging with the food, New Frontiers Program, which is organic, vegan, no added sugar or preservatives. The packaging is also 100 per cent compostable.

The winning team was Caterina Palma, Sherlyn Marvella and Tamanna Kibrea from the New Frontiers Program at MFI.

“To have our concept judged and recognised on the global stage makes all of our hard work and ambitions for packaging in the future worth it,” says Palma.

“This award means that new innovative sustainable product packaging is being recognised now. We are excited to see our peanut by-product fibreboard concept potentially being introduced and used in the future of sustainable packaging.”

The New Frontiers Program sees SMEs partnered with a dedicated student team for 10-12 weeks working on a business challenge in food, beverages, market analysis, new product development and packaging.

Over the duration of the program, participants learn MFI innovation methodologies to explore value propositions, markets, knowledge mapping, product mapping and ideation to provide leading innovative solutions for their partnered SME.

Adam Norris, MFI’s design manager, says the program helps students to partner with industry to develop real-world outcomes outside of their studies, and propels them into employment.

“Through the AIP and the WorldStar Student Awards, our students have a unique opportunity to have their industry partnered work displayed and recognised on a global platform,” continues Norris.

“Critically, this provides recognition beyond their immediate studies, bolsters their professional development and allows students to reach out to prospective employers and showcase the real-world solutions devised during their industrial immersion.”

The WorldStar Student Awards competition, by the World Packaging Organisation (WPO), and is an international packaging design competition for students – undergraduate or graduate.

The Awards are designed to encourage and show the talents of students, as well as new and innovative ideas and thinking in the field of packaging.

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