Egg boxes produced from a mixture of ryegrass and recycled paper have hit UK supermarket shelves for the first time.
Retailer Waitrose, in association with egg packer Stonegate, launched the new green-coloured packaging in its Duchy Organic range and the company predicts the switch will save 77t of wood/recycled paper a year.
If successful, Waitrose plans to extend the packaging, which is made from up to 50% grass fibres, to other lines, which could save up to 405t/year.
The ryegrass packaging has been produced by Finnish global packaging company Huhtamaki for Stonegate, and has already proved popular in the Netherlands and Germany in recent years.
Huhtamaki is keen to increase the grass content to up to 100%.
The biodegradable packaging is made from unfertilised ryegrass in Europe, which is specially mown to keep out sand and dust, silaged and then the fibres are extracted.
The process saves 60% of the water needed in a standard fibre pack and reduces greenhouses gases by a claimed 10%.
While Stonegate admitted there were additional costs in producing the boxes, the company was optimistic that it would prove popular in the Duchy Organic Range, and could take off across the retail sector.
A spokeswoman denied that the product was a “gimmick”, saying Stonegate was keen to look at different ways to improve packaging.
“We find that once one company decides to try something new, others follow suit,” she said.
Stonegate’s managing director James Corbett said: “This technology provides a very exciting opportunity to significantly decrease the amount of recycled paper that currently goes into producing egg packs.
Waitrose egg buyer Frances Westerman said: “We often take the humble egg box for granted as it reliably keeps your eggs intact until you’re ready to crack them open.
“While we’ve found no better way for safely getting eggs to your kitchen table, we’re always looking at ways we can use less packaging and more sustainable materials, to ensure that we minimise our impact on the environment.”