Packaging does more than just protect produce. It also conveys a message about a company’s sustainability efforts.

Consumers are driving the movement toward biobased packaging, said Lawrence Ohlman III, director of operations, for EcoLogic Foodservice Solutions, Toledo, Ohio.

“People that buy produce … they’re all about health and wellness, but at the same time a lot of products they’re purchasing are packaged in Styrofoam,” Ohlman said. “A lot of fruit packaging is unsustainable. ... It’s made from oil and causes a lot of waste.”

EcoLogic has a new line of sustainable fresh produce trays that it plans to begin distributing by March.

The line of more than 20 designs is 100% biobased, Ohlman said. It’s manufactured from reclaimed plant waste, which can include fibers from sugar, corn, hemp and bamboo.

Although they are compostable, the trays tolerate heat and maintain their shape during transit and storage, Ohlman said.

The line includes mushroom packs, asparagus trays, apple trays and other designs. EcoLogic will customize trays.

Ohlman said EcoLogic is applying for certification of the trays through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s BioPreferred program.

Boothbay, Maine-based Biovation LLC earned USDA biobased certification for a polylactic acid absorbent pad with antimicrobial chemistry. Biovation finished testing the product in December and began marketing it in January, said Kerem Durdag, chief executive officer.

The pad was designed specifically for use under leafy greens in contact-based applications, Durdag said. It can be placed under leafy greens in a clamshell, flexible pouch, or box.

“It can be used in any container, whatever it is, and with leafy greens on top,” Durdag said.

In a December lettuce field trial, the Biovatix pad was effective against a strain of E. coli. The report said bacteria absorbed into the pad’s core were “effectively killed.”

Companies can certify products as biobased to be listed in the USDA’s BioPreferred catalog, which is a list of Federal government purchasing preferences.

Earthcycle Packaging Ltd., Vancouver, British Columbia, has packaging made from palm fiber, a waste byproduct of palm oil production. Earthcycle manufactures packaging for a variety of fresh produce items.

Shannon Boase, chief executive officer, said Earthcycle is expanding manufacturing capabilities in Malaysia and has increased production and added new product designs.