Tomato growers are always left with a lot of leaves and stems. Up until now these leaves and stems went straight onto the compost pile.
While searching for ways to reuse this natural material, researchers at Wageningen UR discovered that the fiber pulp from tomato plants can be used to produce packaging material. One of the products they developed was tomato packaging made from tomato leaves and stems. This packaging even smells like tomatoes. Tomato growers produce more than enough leaves and stems to package tomatoes in their own leaves. By producing their own packaging the tomato growers reduce their carbon footprint. This is how Wageningen UR contributes to improving the quality of life.
“This way, we use of plant based materials efficiently, a good example of biobased economy.” (Christiaan Bolck, Programme Manager biobased materials)
‘Biobased economy’ is an important research and development theme at Wageningen UR. A biobased economy is an economy in which companies convert biomass into products, chemicals and energy. Wageningen UR works together with different partners to develop sustainable technologies for converting biomass into products.
Several of Wageningen UR’s biobased economy related research projects focus on developing materials from agro-residuals. Wageningen UR developed this tomato packaging together with the Dutch Product Board for Horticulture, tomato growers and packaging producers. Together with Kenniscentrum Papier & Karton and Kenniscentrum Plantstoffen, Wageningen UR is also investigating whether tomato stems can be used in cardboard production.
Source: Wageningen UR, press release, 2013-05-28.