We are the only supermarket willing to absorb the high costs' Tesco set for complete switch to biodegradable Tesco is increasing its use of biodegradable starch-based packaging for organic fruit and vegetables as the first stage towards a complete switch. If the current trials prove successful, the new material, developed by Italian research company Novamont, could be adopted by the end of next year. It has been tested on netting for organic oranges, Royal Gala, Golden Delicious, pears and kiwifruit. Organic lemons and pink and yellow grapefruit will be partially packaged, with compostible labels being developed. Organic vegetables will follow in October. Paul Bidwell, organic fruit development manager, says: "We are the only supermarket willing to absorb the high costs of developing and using the special materials. The new packaging is marginally more expensive, but we believe economies of scale will make it as cheap to produce as conventional forms. Despite the initial higher cost, any price increase will not be passed on on to customers." Bidwell confirmed Tesco had been talking with suppliers for the last nine months. Growers and packers often carry large stocks of material which as far as Tesco is concerned would be obsolete. "We are already meeting with all suppliers to ensure no one is left with the burden," he said. David Holburn, packaging buyer for Organic Farm Foods, which has been supplying Tesco for 14 years, said: "Many consumers of organic produce also feel it is a logical step." He also accepted Tesco's raison d'être that it provided "a better way forward" towards solving Britain's waste crisis. The material, which is as strong as PVC and polypropylene, can be used for trays, covers and netting. It is now commercially used by Sharp Interpack which makes containers and through Natura, the German netting manufacturer which distributes through ASP. {{FRESH PRODUCE }}