Melodea enters US market with plastic-free packaging solution

The new US plant will boost production of its paper sidestream-sourced barrier coating.

Melodea, a producer of sustainable barrier coatings for packaging, has announced plans to expand its eco-friendly solution to the US market. The move is set to support increased production capacity of its novel, plastic-free, plant-based barrier coatings to serve the burgeoning US and South American markets. Melodea will showcase its portfolio of products at the PackExpo exhibition in Chicago from 23-26 Oct.

One of the greatest strains on the ecology and climate is of plastic waste. Of the millions of tons of plastic waste generated each year, single-use plastic packaging is the worst culprit. Melodea produces barrier coating material sourced from wood pulp, a sidestream of the paper-making industry. Its green solution has enabled food, beverage, and consumer goods packagers reduce plastic use. Plastic has long been necessary to maintain food freshness, acting as a barrier to prevent unwanted transmission of oxygen, water, oil, or grease into the products.

Use of forestry by-products

Melodea developed a formula derived from cellulose nanocrystals (CNC) that can withstand high humidity and protects packed products from oxygen, water, oil, and grease. This sturdy but lightweight plant material offers an alternative to plastic and aluminium for maintaining the quality and integrity of packaged foods. As a forestry by-product, it also is biodegradable, fully recyclable, and non-toxic to people or the environment. The material is currently used for the manufacturing of paper-based pouches, lids, moulded pulp trays, and more.

To meet rising demand from the country, Melodea will operate a toll manufacturing plant in the US which will allow for the cost-effective production, shipping and easier logistics of its two products: MelOx, which protects packaged products from oxygen and oil and grease transmission; and VBcoat, which counteracts the transmission of water, oil, and grease. All of Melodea’s barrier coatings are in compliance with FDA regulations for food packaging

“CNC from naturally abundant and renewable cellulose is emerging as one of the most promising green solutions to help replace environmentally harmful materials,” enthused Shaul Lapidot, CEO and co-founder of Melodea. “The new plant, combined with our newly established ties in the US, can potentially triple our manufacturing capacity to meet amplified demands. It also will shorten the travel and subsequent carbon footprint by bringing production closer to our main markets in South America and the US.”

Melodea recently forged a new commercial deal with a major manufacturer of plant-based fibre solutions in its mission to eliminate single-use plastics. The company will produce and market various packaging products infused with Melodea’s VBcoat moisture barrier. The first product to be rolled out is an eco-friendly moulded pulp tray for leafy greens designed to replace existing plastic-based formats.

Melodea estimates it will be ready to start shipping locally from the US site within the next three to six months as it initiates production of its novel barrier coatings with a local US partner. The new pipeline will serve its current North American clients (including leading food and consumer goods companies) and further expand its client network.

CNC growth trajectory

The global nanocellulose market is currently worth approximately US$346 million and is projected to grow to $963 million by 2026. Driven by consumers’ demands for eco-supportive packaging solutions, nanocellulose is gaining traction among retailers differentiating themselves by decreasing the impact of their products on the environment. North America holds the highest market share of the global flexible packaging market, with some of the largest international market players in the field of paper-based packaging headquartered there.

Melodea has so far raised a total of $20 million in capital. The company was founded as a spin-off project initiated at the Hebrew university of Jerusalem in 2010 in Israel by Dr Shaul Lapidot together with Tord Andres – an professional from the composites industry; and Oded Shoseyov PhD, a renowned expert in nano materials and plant biotechnology who sits on the Melodea advisory board. Melodea’s technology is protected by 14 patents and was a winner of the Packaging Europe 2019 sustainability award.

“CNC is the ideal environmentally sound solution, delivering high-performance ‘clean and green’ paper-based packaging products,” explained Zvika Weiss, CFO of Melodea. “Our CNC is sustainably produced, recycling about 95% of the materials in the process, and its superior performance has been verified by academic research. CNC has great potential to turn the tide on the cascade of negative impacts from plastic pollution that have been a pressing environmental issue for too long.”