Simon Smith · CBC News · 

Eco Guardian receives $25,000, fibre-based product could soon be used in Nova Scotia stores

Nova Scotians could soon see less plastic in the meat aisle thanks to the winner of a nationwide competition held by Sobeys.

The grocer awarded Newmarket, Ont., packaging company Eco Guardian $25,000 for its meat packaging product design, which is made from sugar cane and bamboo fibres.

The competition sought an alternative to polystyrene foam, which is being phased out with new federal regulations.

“It was really very encouraging [and] motivating for us,” Anil Abrol, Eco Guardian founder and CEO, said of the award. “It validates, basically, what we are doing.”

Bamboo and sugar cane packaging decomposes in 30-60 days in industrial composting facilities, while Styrofoam takes many years to decompose, according to the company.

In addition to the prize money, which Abrol said will largely go to employees who worked on the project, Eco Guardian will now have the opportunity to have its product used in a pilot project at Sobeys stores in Nova Scotia.

Eli Browne, the director of sustainability for Sobeys, wouldn’t say when Nova Scotians can expect to see the new trays in stores, but the company hopes it is “as soon as possible.”

She said the goal of the competition was to find a product that would not end up in a landfill.

“What Eco Guardian put forward really excited us,” she said. “It’s a fibre-based tray — so, something that is non-plastic — and they were also in a position to be commercially viable.”

Browne said the next step is to test the product to ensure that it maintains quality, freshness and food safety. The primary goal of the pilot project would be to gauge customer reaction to the new packaging.

Divert Nova Scotia, a waste-diversion non-profit, will contribute up to $25,000 to support the project if Sobeys and Eco Guardian decide to move forward.

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