Business in Brief - 14/04/2021

NLWA opens applications for £15,000 waste prevention grants

North London Waste Authority (NLWA) has established community-based support funds to encourage waste reduction initiatives across the seven north London boroughs of Barnet, Camden, Enfield, Hackney, Haringey, Islington, and Waltham Forest.

Of the NLWA’s total £60,000 fund, grants of up to £15,000 will be given to non-profit organisations who apply by 12 noon on 7 May 2021.

Applications for the 2021/22 grants opened on 6 April 2021 and to be eligible, the organisation must be non-profit.

The NLWA encourages applications from projects that target one or more of the following areas: electrical repair and reuse; prevention of food waste; furniture and textile reuse; and the reduction of single use plastics.

In North London, more than 850,000 tonnes of preventable waste are collected annually.

In tandem with NLWA’s waste prevention programme, the community support fund was introduced in 2017.

It offers financial backing to non-profit organisations for initiatives that combat waste in their local communities.

Last year’s grant recipients included the food poverty charity FEAST with US, which was awarded a grant to help reduce plastic and food waste caused by the pandemic.

Community charity Groundwork London also received a grant to aid the development of DIY and cooking skills to save money and reduce waste.

Hackney City Farm was given a grant which allowed its ‘Get Loose’ to function in accordance with social distancing guidelines through trial zero waste deposit and collection schemes.

Circularity Capital and AXA IM announce investment in PackBenefit

Private equity firm Circularity Capital LLP and investment manager AXA IM have announced investment in the Spanish-based PackBenefit, a manufacturer of recyclable and compostable food trays, as part of the AXA Impact Fund Climate and Biodiversity1.

The companies will work alongside JZ International, which has invested in PackBenefit since its launch in 2013.

PackBenefit specialises in manufacturing food trays made out of cellulose, with a surface coating based on corn and potato starches.

The food trays are ovenproof, microwaveable and suitable for freezing and can be recycled through card recycling streams.

This new investment is expected to support the PackBenefit management team in helping the company pursue international expansion.

Andrew Shannon, partner at Circularity Capital, commented: “This is a very exciting time for PackBenefit. The company’s market-leading, commercially proven solution has allowed it to build a blue-chip client base whose demand vastly outstrips current manufacturing capacity.”

“We are excited to be working with the company, in partnership with AXA IM Alts and JZ International, to deliver significant positive environmental impact by demonstrating the viability of thermoformed pulp as a truly scalable, sustainable food packaging solution, capable of the type of technical performance previously thought possible only with plastic.

Philippe Fèvre, CEO of PackBenefit added: “This investment marks a significant milestone in the development of PackBenefit.

“The continuous support by JZ International, alongside this new partnership with Circularity Capital and AXA IM Alts, together with the additional funding this brings, will allow us to develop our production footprint in Europe and accelerate the adoption of sustainable food packaging for our ambitious customer base.

We are looking forward to working with Circularity Capital as investors, given their unique position and deep insight in the circular economy.”

Aldi launches packaging-free trial in Cumbria store

Aldi has launched a trial selling its first packaging-free products to help customers consume less plastic packaging.

The concept is currently being trialled at one store in Ulverston, Cumbria, but if successful, Aldi will seek to develop its refillable options in stores across the country.

Four types of rice and pasta – basmati rice, brown rice, penne pasta and wholewheat fusilli – are available to buy loose.The products are available by weight, and customers will be provided with free paper bags that are fully recyclable and made from FSC-certified material.

Aldi predicts the move could remove more than 130 tonnes – or more than 21 million pieces – of plastic annually from stores.

This goes towards the retailer’s goal of making all of its own-label products recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2022.                                                                      

Richard Gorman, Plastics and Packaging Director at Aldi, said: “Customers at our Ulverston store can now buy the same high-quality items they know and love, while also cutting down on plastic packaging.

“We’re always looking for new ways to reduce waste plastic and limit packaging, as many of our shoppers are increasingly conscious of the environment and their impact on it.

“We hope local customers embrace the trial and we will use their feedback to inform any future plans around refillable products.”