Why Sugarcane Bagasse Might Be the Most Sustainable Packaging Solution

Why Sugarcane Bagasse Might Be the Most Sustainable Packaging Solution

Tommy Lai |

The need for environmentally friendly packaging solutions is rising, and sugarcane bagasse is seen as a solution. 

As of 2022, the worldwide bagasse market was worth $274 million. Forecasts indicate it will reach $514 million by 2031, expanding at a CAGR of 6.7% from 2023 to 2031.

Bagasse clearly shows promise as a primary material for food packaging. Its many advantages and eco-friendliness make it an excellent choice for food packaging Vancouver.

Sugarcane Bagasse: A Packaging History

This fibrous residue, after extracting juice from sugarcane stalks, was once considered agricultural waste. Industries seeking sustainable packaging alternatives discovered its potential as a resource after discarding or burning it.

Transforming Packaging Waste into a Valuable Resource

Sustainable practices have transformed sugarcane bagasse from waste to packaging material:

  • Early Uses. Traditional agricultural communities used sugarcane bagasse as boiler fuel or soil enrichment compost.
  • Technological Advancements. Processing and manufacturing innovations have made sugarcane bagasse a viable packaging material. This includes pulping fibres to create paper or thermoforming containers and utensils.
  • Market Uptake. Due to environmental awareness and regulatory pressures, industrial sectors seeking renewable, biodegradable alternatives to plastics have adopted sugarcane bagasse-based packaging.

Industry Demand for Sustainable Packaging

Strong regulatory frameworks, consumer awareness, and corporate sustainability mandates drive demand for sustainable packaging solutions across industries. Material sourcing, production, distribution, and end-of-life management are all part of sustainable packaging. Key drivers include:

  1. Consumer Awareness and Preferences. A rise in environmental awareness leads to a shift toward products made from greener products.
  2. Regulatory Compliance. Packaging regulations encourage industries to use sustainable alternatives to plastics.
  3. Business Sustainability Plans. Sustainability helps companies meet global goals, brand reputation, and stakeholder expectations.

Projections for Sugarcane Bagasse Growth

Sugarcane bagasse is expected to grow in packaging due to its environmental friendliness:

  • Greensourcing. May replace fossil-based plastics.
  • Biodegradability and Compostability. This biodegradable and compostable material promotes a circular economy and environmentally friendly disposal.

Food Service, Retail, and Consumer Goods Adoption

Restaurants and caterers use sugarcane bagasse-based compostable food containers and utensils to reduce single-use plastics. Retailers use sustainable packaging to meet consumer demand for eco-friendly products and reduce their environmental impact.

Sustainable packaging helps personal care, cosmetics, and household product companies meet sustainability goals, comply with regulations, and build brand equity.

The Sugarcane Bagasse Production, Storage, and Characteristics

How Bagasse is Extracted and Refined

Processing sugarcane bagasse into packaging requires several technical steps:





Raw Material

Sugarcane bagasse, 30–35% of the cane's biomass, is produced after juicing from stalks.

Moisture Content

Drying fresh bagasse before processing is necessary because it contains 40-50% moisture by weight.


Mechanical Drying

Bagasse is dried to below 10% moisture using rotary or belt dryers. Preventing microbial growth and ensuring storage stability is essential.


Mechanical Pulping

Disc refiners or hammer mills separate bagasse fibres.

Chemical Pulping

Processes like soda or kraft can break down lignin and hemicellulose. The average chemical pulping yield is 45-55%.


Fibre treatment

The pulp is mechanically refined to improve fibre bonding and flexibility, often reaching 300-400 mL CSF.


Strength and water resistance can be improved with biodegradable binders or coatings.

Moulding and Forming


The pulp is thermoformed at 180-200°C and 2-5 MPa.

Product Specifications

Typical products include plates, trays, and containers with 1-3 mm thickness and 300-500 kg/m³ density.

Maintaining Quality and Usability in Storage

  • Dry storage. Bagasse should be stored in a dry, well-ventilated area to avoid mould and fibre degradation. Keep moisture levels in check.
  • Manage temperature. They stay structurally intact when stored at a stable temperature. Extreme heat can warp or brittle.
  • Eliminating pests. Pest control protects stored bagasse from insects and rodents that could degrade it.
  • Packaging. Packaging finished bagasse products in moisture-resistant material protects them from humidity and physical damage during transport and storage.

Physical and Mechanical Packaging Properties

Sugarcane bagasse has significant physical and mechanical properties for packaging:

  • Durability and Strength. Has 10-20 MPa tensile strengths. Depending on thickness and density, compressive strength is 5-15 MPa.
  • Biodegradability. Industrial composting meets ASTM D6400 and EN 13432 compostability standards in 45-60 days.
  • Thermal Insulation. Have a thermal conductivity of 0.04 to 0.06 W/m·K, which makes them ideal for modulated food packaging insulation.
  • Moisture Resistance. PLA or beeswax coatings can reduce 24-hour water absorption to 10%.
  • Lightweight. Lighter bagasse-based packaging products (300-500 kg/m³) may shipping costs and improve handling efficiency compared to conventional supplies.

Sugarcane Bagasse: Chemical Makeup

Fibrous sugarcane bagasse is made of organic materials, mostly:

  1. Cellulose. 40-50% bagasse weight. This forms long glucose chains and is the main structural component.
  2. Hemicellulose. 20-30% of bagasse. The filler between cellulose fibres is hemicellulose, a complex carbohydrate of sugars.
  3. Lignin. 20-25% of bagasse. Glucose and hemicellulose are bound by lignin, a rigid, complex polymer that resists decomposition.
  4. Other Components. 5-10% proteins, ash, waxes, and extractives.

Effects on Biodegradability and Compostability

Because of its unique chemical composition, bagasse decomposes and returns to nature in different ways:

  • Cellulose. Bacteria and fungi use enzymes to break down cellulose into glucose. High cellulose content speeds composting because microbes can quickly eat it.
  • Hemicellulose. Hemicellulose breaks down more quickly than cellulose due to its flexibility. It accelerates microbial growth, aiding composting.
  • Lignin. Composting lignin is more complex and slower than cellulose and hemicellulose. Lignin bulks compost, improving structure and aeration but slowing composting.

Uses of Sugarcane in Product Packaging

Sugarcane bagasse packaging has various benefits in the retail and food service industries. These containers are entirely biodegradable and compostable, which aligns with environmental objectives.

They are well-built to withstand hot, cold, and oily foods. These packaging are also free from plastic packaging toxins and chemicals and meet the safe standards for food contact.

Sugarcane containers provide natural insulation that keeps food warm. This makes them ideal for hot and cold use. Growing consumer demand for eco-friendly packaging and showcasing environmental responsibility boosts brand image.

Custom Packaging Applications

The packaging industry uses sugarcane bagasse because of its eco-friendliness and versatility. Usages include:

  • Containers. Food storage and takeout packaging. Strong and leak-proof, ideal for hot and cold foods.
  • Plates. Restaurants, catering, and events use bagasse disposable plates. They resist crumbling in hot, moist, or oily foods.
  • Trays. Used for food serving or compartmentalization in cafeterias and fast-food outlets. Provide a sturdy structure for heavy loads.
  • Cups and Bowls. Ideal for soups and drinks. Designed to withstand liquid filling.
  • Clamshell Packaging. Ideal for bakery, takeout, and fresh produce packaging. Replaces plastic clamshells with security and biodegradability.

Effective Sugarcane Products For Your Business 




Clamshell Container

Clamshell Eco-Friendly Square Sugarcane Containers 8x8x2.5

Store various types of food, like salads, sandwiches, pastas, and full meals.

Sugarcane Hinged Containers 2-Compartment 9x6x3”

Ideal for serving main courses with sides or snacks for portion control.

Container (Base Only)

30oz Sugarcane 2-Compartment Container

Can serve saucy food with other sides, snacks, or meals. 

28oz Rectangular Sugarcane Container

Perfect for soups, food with sauce, and dry food products. 


9” Sugarcane Round Plates 1-Compartment

Suitable for many dishes, from appetizers to desserts.

9” Sugarcane Round Plates 3-Compartment

Serve main courses, sides, and sauces without mixing flavours.



Make the Transition to Eco-Friendly Packaging Today

Sugarcane bagasse has emerged as a sustainable and highly effective solution for packaging requirements. As global demand for sustainable practices rises, industries must adopt eco-friendly alternatives like sugarcane bagasse. Choosing trustworthy suppliers of sugarcane bagasse products is essential for both businesses and consumers. 

Working with Patek Packaging guarantees high-quality, safe, and certified biodegradable packaging. Our food packaging company in British Columbia is dedicated to providing quality materials and exceptional services to our customers across Canada. Our experienced team ensures that every package meets the highest standards.


Frequently Asked Questions

Does food packaging with sugarcane bagasse have drawbacks? 

High-temperature sensitivity is a minor drawback of sugarcane bagasse packaging. Temperatures above 95 degrees Celsius weaken bagasse products. This limitation can hinder high-heat-resistant applications. 

It may also face issues like:

  • Hot Liquids. Extended exposure to hot liquids can weaken the material, causing leaks or deformations.
  • Grease Resistance. Bagasse has natural water resistance, but it may not work well with greasy or oily foods without coatings.

What are some ways to mitigate the drawbacks of bagasse packaging? 

Food packaging companies offer packaging solutions to mitigate these drawbacks:

  1. Coatings and Additives. Biodegradable coatings improve heat and grease resistance.
  2. Mixing Materials. Combining with other sustainable materials improves its performance, thus expanding its uses.
  3. Targeted Applications. Paying particular attention to uses where resistance to high temperatures is less important, like packaging for cold foods, one-time-use dishes, and medical storage needs.

What makes sugarcane containers different from other types of packaging?

Sugarcane fibre is an excellent alternative to paper, styrofoam, and plastic. Senior scientist Olga Naidenko says styrofoam has well-documented environmental and health risks. It takes 500 years to decompose and uses 30% of landfills. About 20% of all Styrofoam is not disposed of in landfills.

Sugarcane fibre food packaging products are cheaper and comparable in durability. These containers are porous and absorb excess moisture, which makes them breathable and drier for produce.