4 Mai 2006

Guide published on handling biodegradable packaging

NatureWorks has produced a handling guide to help those along the supply chain handle biodegradable plastic packaging made from its polylactic acid (PLA).

“The introduction of a new polymer, such as NatureWorks PLA, requires different thinking when managing through the supply chain,” said Jim Hobbs, the company’s product director. “It is our goal to assist all our customers, brandowners and retailers in successfully using our nature-based plastic in their daily operations.”

Over the past year packaging suppliers have been introducing various forms of biodegradable plastics made from a variety of plants, in the main corn, based on projections that there will be a growing demand for environmentally-friendly packaging.

The switch to biodegradable packaging is driven by environmentally-conscious consumers and recycling regulations. Some companies are predicting that the market will grow by about 20 per cent a year. The development is also being pushed by the recent escalation in the price of oil, which is bringing traditional petroleum based polymers into the same range as the previously more expensive non-oil based packaging.

NatureWorks said over the past three years it has had a “dramatic” increase in the number of commercial successes of its PLA used to make one form of biodegradable packaging.

“As with the introduction of any new material, manufacturers and converters often request information on the technical care and handling of biopolymers and finished goods as they are incorporated and managed in an established supply chain,” the company stated today in releasing its guidance. 

The guidance is documents and compiles the best practices of clients who have used PLA, from the converting lines to the store shelves.
NatureWorks, a Cargill unit, developed and produces PLA. Companies such as Treofan in Germany use the PLA to make a packaging film for foods or other products.

NatureWorks will be conducting an online broadcast  on 17 May  9 a.m. CDT, and again at 9 p.m. CDT, to discuss the methods for using and shipping the packaging.

Food packagers last year faced price hikes of between 30 per cent to 80 per cent for conventional plastics due to the increased cost of petroleum. With the increases some bioplastics products reached full price competitiveness with the traditional oil-based packaging.

(Cf. news of March 31, 2006 and Febr. 13, 2006.)

Source: Foodproductiondaily April 28, 2006.

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