Two weeks after announcing its readiness to ship biodegradable containers to McDonald's for the fast-food giant's Big Mac sandwiches, EarthShell Corp. of Baltimore has signed a definitive agreement with Finland-based Huhtamaki Oyj (Polarcup) to establish a new joint venture company. The new firm, Polarcup EarthShell, will commercialize EarthShell packaging for the foodservice industry throughout Europe, Australia and New Zealand. The joint venture will also address the Asian market on a country-by-country basis.
Huhtamaki, the largest manufacturer of foodservice disposables outside North America, and EarthShell will now begin planning and engineering EarthShell's next manufacturing facilities for commercial production of an expanded product range to begin next year. To reinforce the unique attributes of EarthShell packaging, which consists a non-plastic, non-paper material that decomposes on land and dissolves rapidly in water, the EarthShell brand name and logo will be identified on each product in the marketplace.
The foodservice containers, which are being manufactured for McDonald's at Sweetheart Cup's Owings Mill, MD, facility, are made entirely of natural, renewable and biodegradable materials, consisting mostly of limestone. Natural starches from potatoes, corn or rice serve as binders gluing the limestone particles together. Water and natural fibers are also used to create the non-toxic material. The ingredients are baked in a mold to produce a lightweight, insulating, 100% biodegradable honeycombed structure. The material is protected by 78 patents.
"We're pleased to be taking this significant next step in our relationship with EarthShell, and to be able to offer our customers an environmentally responsible option without sacrificing performance or cost considerations," said Huhtamaki CEO Timo Peltola.
Huhtamaki recently announced its intent to acquire Royal Packaging Industries Van Leer N.V., the makers of Chinet brand disposable plates and bowls.
An official for EarthShell said that other than a 50-50 split for expenses, the two companies have not agreed to a location or total amount for the new facility, which Huhtamaki will operate.
For more information: EarthShell Corp., Tel.: 410-949-1300, Fax: 410-949-1351.