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PAC: Raw Material Product (sold in Canada) - Gold AND PAC Sustainable Packaging Innovation Award

NatureFlex

Overview

Innovia Films rose to the challenge to develop a biodegradable and compostable packaging film that would aid in conserving our environment for future generations, by using a 100% compostable resource…wood pulp. The pulp is sourced from managed plantations from referenced suppliers operating good forestry principals. Natureflex™ can be found around the world in the packaging of candy, bakery goods, fresh produce, household products and personal care items. Its' initial success was in the European market but in the last couple of years Canada, South America and the U.S. have all been using it for a variety of applications. Natureflex films can substitute adequately for petroleum-based pacakging films and typically have a renewable content of some 95% by weight of material.

Motivation for Change

As petroleum-based materials edge upward in cost, biodegradable packaging made from renewable resources grows more appealing. People are ready for packaging that provides them with the products and convenience they desire but do not contribute to the demise of the planet. The global packaging industry is facing mounting economic pressures to reduce non-renewable waste, as more and more nations move to limit the commercial use of oil based products. The ‘hot-button’ action today is to focus on this emerging market for ‘socially responsible’ packaging. Innovia Films rose to the challenge to develop a biodegradable & compostable packaging films to satisfy the needs of retailers and consumers alike to conserve our environment for future generations.

Performance

NatureFlex films provide varying barrier properties according to the requirements of many packaged products, especially short-shelf-life fresh goods. NatureFlex films are thin, typically 0.75mil to 1.65mil thick. In addition, NatureFlex films have inherently high resistance to aromas, gases, greases and oils. NatureFlex films are also static-free resulting in a high degree of machinability. NatureFlex films have good gloss and transparency making them ideal for consumer packaging applications. NatureFlex films have a high heat-resistance and certain grades are microwaveable and suitable for oven re-heating. NatureFlex films can be combined with other biodegradeable packaging materials (e.g. paper)which increases the possible packaging applications. NatureFlex films are certified to both EU (EN13432:2000) & American (ASTM D6400) composting norms.

Sourcing

Depending on grade, NatureFlex films are typically between 90% and 99% renewable as confirmed by testing to the ASTM D6866 standard. NatureFlex™ is manufactured from wood-pulp sourced from managed plantations from referenced suppliers operating Good Forestry principals (FSC or equivalent).

Clean Production

In line with social responsible principals, Innovia Films have implemented modern practices to eliminate waste of materials, chemicals and water. For instance, at the Wigton production facility, water undergoes waste treatment that applies the sludge to local farmland as a fertilized and soil improvement ingredient. As an environmental finality, paper and raw material packaging are recycled and, waste film is sold to outside manufacturers. Innovia Films manufacturing processes are constantly updated in order to reduce their impact on the environment. Examples of the levels of improvement achieved are set out in our Production and Life Cycle Assessment brochure. However, like all manufacturing processes, this is an area for constant focus and improvement. Improvements to our cellulose film production over the past 20 years have led to a 58% reduction in the global warming potential. The fact that we use renewable raw materials is an excellent start as NatureFlex films are typically around 95% renewable as measured by ASTM D6866. The production site which manufactures NatureFlex was recently accorded the ISO 14001 Environmental certificate.

Effective Recovery

NatureFlex films are globally certified to the required compostability standards. Indeed, any NatureFlex waste generated on our production site is specifically segregated and taken for Industrial composting at a local professional composting facility. The materials are themselves largely renewable. They are certified to ASTM D6400, EN13432 for industrial composting & to Vincotte’s standard for Home compostability. Packaging material made from NatureFlex can be turned into useful compost when it is disposed of in a compost facility (industrial or home). NatureFlex films can also biodegrade in waste-water. Industrial composting facilities exist in most European countries as well as in many Canadian municipalities. In addtion, home-composting is practiced by many Canadians and Europeans and is growing in popularity in the U.S.

Community Benefit

Innovia has also contributed to a scheme that distributes "solar ovens" to poor communities in Africa, resulting in lower CO2 emissions, lower energy costs, the reduction in deforestation, and providing health and safety benefits to the people of these communities.

Material Health

NatureFlex films are approved for Direct Food Contact under current FDA and EU legislation. The films have passed both the ASTM D6400 & EN13432 compostability programs. NatureFlex films are suitable for incineration, providing the same calorific value as wood.

Resource & Energy Optimization

Our principal energy source at manufacture is Natural gas and no viable renewable gas supplies exist currently. However, a feasibility study is underway to assess the use of Anaerobic Digestion to provide elements of our gas supply. Finally, NatureFlex has recently become carbon-neutral as Innovia has partnered with CO2balance, a leading carbon services company who operates carbon-reduction schemes locally and globally, to offset the carbon emissions created during the manufacture of NatureFlex. 3,000 trees were planted at Sand Martin Wood, Faugh, Cumbria, which is 30 kms. from Innovia's plant in Wigton that produces the NatureFlex. In addition, Innovia has contributed to a scheme that distributes "solar ovens" to poor communities in Africa. This has a number of benefits; it reduces deforestation, reduces CO2 emissions from open stove burning, reduces energy costs and provides health and safety benefits to the users.

Categories: General Packaging Polymer (Bio-based) PAC Award Winner

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