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Nissin to introduce plant-derived plastics to instant noodle cups

World's 2nd largest player aims to raise use of nonpetrochemical material to 97%

In three years, the cups that hold Nissin instant noodles will be friendlier to the environment.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- Japan's Nissin Foods Holdings will introduce a plant-derived plastic to the material of its instant noodle cups.

Aiming to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, the company plans to introduce the new material to the mainstay Cup Noodle line of products by the end of March 2022, thus raising the ratio of nonpetrochemical materials in its packaging to 97%.

With environmental restrictions on the use of plastics growing stricter globally, the company plans to eventually introduce similar measures for products sold overseas.

Other Japanese food-makers have been making similar moves. Suntory Holdings plans to establish a system to recycle plastic beverage bottles. Nissin has the second largest share in the global instant noodle market, and its move to expand the use of plant-derived material is expected to become a significant driving force for other companies to follow.

Its plan is to use biomass polyethylene resin, derived from sugar cane, for 10% to 20% of container material. This resin has begun to be introduced in food wrapping. Nissin plans to introduce it in phases, starting with products to be manufactured in December, spending several billion yen (tens of millions of dollars) to modify assembly lines.

The company's containers are made of 70% paper, while about 30% is a petrochemical material used mainly to prevent odors from kitchen chemicals such as insecticides seeping into the product. Nissin's plan will halve the petrochemical content by replacing it with the new material.

Over 10 million instant noodle products are consumed every year the world over.

Moves to tighten control over the use of plastics are cropping up. In France, a law will come into full force by the end of 2025 that requires all specified plastic products, including wrappers, be made of at least 60% plant-derived materials.

Nissin, which has about 10% of the world's instant noodle market, plans to introduce plant-derived plastics in its overseas products.

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