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Mars Food in partnership with Amcor is bringing the first food-safe, mono-material microwavable rice pouch to market in 2021.

The mono-polypropylene plastic (PP) pouches are to launch with an initial pilot in the first half of next year. Mars plans to further scale the technology across its portfolio beginning in the second half of the year.

Mars said the use of high-performing mono-PP material will retain the shape, shelf life, functionality, and high safety standards necessary for the brand's packaging while ensuring the pouches can be mechanically and chemically recycled where infrastructure exists.

This upcoming launch builds on Amcor’s recent AmLite HeatFlex Recyclable products. This will be its first application for microwaveable food and the first in a stand-up pouch format, according to Amcor.

Amcor Flexibles EMEA president Michael Zacka said the company’s research and development team developed an innovation roadmap of more sustainable plastics, paper, and aluminium packaging.

“Thanks to that foresight and leadership in innovation, we are excited to announce yet another industry first in recycle-ready packaging,” Zacka said.

Mars Food accelerated the development of the new material through rigorous testing and conducted significant scale up tests in its production facilities in the UK, challenging what was previously considered possible throughout the production process. Working in collaboration with Amcor, it then ensured the material development met all its functional requirements while protecting product quality and safety.

“Launching our recyclable retort material in a stand-up pouch format that meets stringent food safety standards is a challenge, and Mars Food took this journey together with us. It will be a win when their brands deliver this innovation to consumers,” Zacka said.

Mars global president food, multisales and global customers Fiona Dawson said the new pack is a huge step towards the company’s 2025 commitment of 100 per cent recyclable, reusable, or compostable packaging.

“We’re committed to finding more sustainable solutions for our packaging that are food safe without compromising quality,” she said.

“We believe in tackling the world’s sustainability challenges together, and through this partnership with Amcor, we will pilot, learn and then scale the volume of recyclable mono-polypropylene pouches across our portfolio.”

The breakthrough is a result of a three-year partnership between Mars Food and Amcor. The companies share a vision to support a circular economy where packaging doesn’t become waste.

The progress is part of Mars’ Sustainable Packaging Plan, which outlines the business’ commitment and plans to achieve 100 per cent recyclable, compostable, or reusable packaging by 2025. The project will also move Amcor closer to achieving its pledge to develop all its packaging to be recyclable or reusable by 2025.

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