Finland-based packaging solutions provider Huhtamaki is planning to test a trial version of a renewable fiber based ready meal packaging with consumers in the UK.

The testing, which is effective from end of May, is being carried out for a fiber based ready meal packaging developed by Huhtamaki in partnership with Swedish forestry cooperative Södra and Saladworks, as an alternative to existing plastic ready meal trays.

Huhtamaki said that the concept is planned to be tested with two Italian style ready meals at a major UK retail chain between May and June this year.

The trial is part of a project, which aims to develop a bio-based ready meal package for the UK market.

The new tray offers a viable alternative to black plastic packaging, which is considered to be a problem for the waste processers’ lasers that identify materials for recycling.

Huhtamaki Steve Davey said: “We hope this novel solution will be well received and that this project will be a tipping point for the adoption of bio-based packages in this segment.

“We know that alternatives based on renewable materials are needed.”

The new packaging concept is a part of an EU-funded project called FRESH, which aims to demonstrate fully bio-based and biodegradable composite material as an cellulose-based alternative to existing fossil-based plastic trays.

Södra innovation and new business senior vice-president Catrin Gustavsson said: “Both producers and consumers are demanding alternatives to plastic packaging. The material Durapulp is a renewable alternative and suitable for sensitive substances such as food.”

Employing 17,400 people, Huhtamaki has 76 manufacturing units and 24 sales offices in 34 countries.

Last year, Södra said it has agreed to develop fully biodegradable, fibre-based packaging for meat products manufacturer Svensk Butikskött.

Södra has planned to use renewable material Durapulp for the packaging solution. DuraPulp is developed from forest raw material, which is biodegradable and recyclable.