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SABIC & CJ Cheiljedang collaborate on world-first ready-to-eat rice packaging bowls made with 25% certified renewable PP

SABIC, a global leader in the chemicals industry, has announced that a food-contact grade of its TRUCIRCLE portfolio of certified renewable polypropylene (PP) resins is used in the production of Hetbahn ‘햇반’ instant white rice packaging bowls by CJ CheilJedang, a South Korea-based global food company. The rigid bowls are the first of their kind using certified renewable PP in a ready-to-eat-rice packaging in Asia Pacific and align with CJ’s strong ‘Nature to Nature’ sustainability roadmap.

Mohammed Al-Zahrani, Vice President of SABIC’s Polypropylene Business, comments: “Food brands around the world are increasingly looking for materials that will help them reduce their carbon footprint without compromising the performance, convenience and food safety of their packaging. We are very pleased about this opportunity to demonstrate SABIC’s vast expertise in sustainable PP resins for rigid food containers. Our certified renewable grade from our TRUCIRCLE portfolio used in CJ’s Hetbahn rice bowls meet the food-contact regulations, and offers the same ease of processing and high end-use quality as competitive all-virgin polymers.”

The Hetbahn brand, which is one of the top brands in cooked rice and now expanding its product portfolio to include porridge, frozen rice, cooked rice with soup etc., was originally launched in 1996 and means freshly harvested and cooked rice and has changed consumers’ perception of Korean rice meal culture. The rice grain is polished in a strict raw material process, cooked the same day and packed in a sterile environment so that the delicious taste of the rice can be preserved.

The rice bowls are manufactured by sheet extrusion and subsequent thermoforming. The PP polymer from SABIC’s TRUCIRCLE portfolio has a certified renewable content of 25% and provides the critical attributes of dimensional stability and heat resistance required when microwaving the rice directly in the cup. In addition to this, the used bowls can be returned into the rigid PP recycling stream to recover their material value and enable a more circular packaging industry. CJ has already started to introduce the new Hetbahn rice bowls in E-Mart stores, one of the largest grocery chains in South Korea.

Grace Kim, SVP of Global Packaging R&D at CJ, adds: “We are excited to launch our very first ISCC PLUS certified food packaging with renewable PP from SABIC. It marks a significant milestone in our ongoing efforts to reduce the carbon footprint and minimize the use of fossil based feedstock in our packaging. Maintaining high standards of quality and safety is a top priority for our company while continuously delivering more environmentally friendly and sustainable packaging. We hope our initiative will inspire the global market by demonstrating the possibilities of renewable circular materials and creating the momentum toward achieving a circular economy.”

SABIC’s renewable polymers are derived from bio-based, second-generation sources not competing with food or feed production. They are manufactured in line with the mass balance accounting recommendations of the International Sustainability & Carbon Certification (ISCC) PLUS program, which defines a set of transparent rules for tracking the material flow across complex supply chains from the feedstock to final applications.

The resulting certified renewable compounds form part of SABIC’s TRUCIRCLE portfolio and services, which also comprise design for recyclability, mechanically recycled products, certified circular polymers and closed loop initiatives to recycle plastic back into high quality applications and help prevent valuable used plastics from becoming waste.

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