Westaways was the recipient of a Judges Special Award at the 2021 Food Manufacture Excellence Awards for its work on compostable packaging. Many companies have launched compostable packaging initiatives, but few have progressed as far as Westaways, which has secured reputable certification for it and uses compostable film made from polybutylene adipate-co-butylene terephthalate (PBAT).
PBAT is widely recognised as offering the highest degree of compostability, but it is sometimes criticised for its low durability and poor tensile strength. However, Westaways has sourced tough, puncture-resistant PBAT.
Cling and antifog properties
The film consists of a 16-micron three-layer blown coextrusion of an aliphatic-aromatic co-polyester based on the fossil monomers adipic acid, terephthalic acid, and 1,4-butanediol. It includes a compound tailor-made for cling film applications with the addition of additives to provide the cling and antifog properties.
According to Baughan, the two PBAT resins combine to deliver high quality transparency and gloss and the material's added robustness. "On the corners of the pack we're not getting tears as we would do with PE [polyethylene film]," said Baughan. The combination also brings high water vapor permeability, enabling the fresh sausages inside to breathe, and good printability with compostable inks. All food-contact requirements are met.
The packaging format is plastic-free, offering advantages when exporting to countries with stringent restrictions on plastics use.
The 2022 Food Manufacture Excellence Awards
Commenting on the experience of winning a 2021 Food Manufacture Judges Special Award, Baughan said: "It's huge. We're a tiny company - 20-30 employees - up against the big names and to get recognition is fantastic. Our staff are absolutely tickled pink."
Online entries are currently open for the 2022 Food Manufacture Excellence Awards, with a rapidly approaching closing date of 6 September. Entry is completely free and the awards will be announced on Thursday 10 February at London Hilton Bankside. If your company has a story to tell of processing excellence in any of the 15 categories, do not delay - enter today! For more information, visit www.foodmanawards.co.uk.
Moving on to talk about Westaway Sausages's growth plans, Baughan said: "One of the strengths of the company has been in the fact that we operate in retail, wholesale, foodservice and export markets. We have growth plans in place for all markets and we certainly expect the whole company to grow by 50% in terms of volume, whilst maintaining or slightly improving margin.
"I'm just doing budgets for two years downstream and I can see the same trends continuing."
Watch this exclusive video for more from Baughan on the company's compostable packaging focus and its growth aspirations.