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PAC Award Winner-Gold

NatureFlex ™

Overview

Innovia Films manufactures NatureFlex™, a family of biodegradable cellulose-based films, derived from renewable wood pulp and is certified to meet both the American ASTM D6400 and European EN13432 standards for compostable packaging. NatureFlex™ films typically have a renewable content of some 95% by weight of material.

In addition to being suitable for ‘Industrial’ composting processes, in 2004 NatureFlex™ became the first packaging film to achieve the Belgian ‘OK Compost Home’ certification. The test protocol completed for this certification confirms the materials biodegradation for back-yard composting and in waste-water environments making it ideal for products seeking proven flushability of the material.NatureFlex™ can be found around the World in the packaging of candy, bakery goods, fresh produce, household products and personal care items. It offers natural and organic product manufacturers the opportunity to align their packaging message with the spirit of their product marketing, by providing them with a biodegradable, naturally-based packaging material.

Innovia Films is targeting increased sustainability of all areas of the process. Projects include raw material sourcing, energy efficiency, environmental impact of processes and developing a unique biodegradable and compostable packaging film, NatureFlex™

Carbon emission is becoming a major focus for Innovia Films. Carbon zero status has been achieved on our full range of coated NatureFlex™ biodegradable and compostable films. This was the end result of a comprehensive Life Cycle Assessment. Innovia Films invests in sequestration or reforestation projects to offset the carbon footprint.

Sustainability Roadmap of Products and ProcessesPurchasing raw materials from sustainable sources eg Pulp from FSC certified suppliers.

NatureFlex film – 95% renewable content.

Plants participate in the Climate Change Agreement - annual energy efficiency targets.

Have active processing aid recycling programs at each plant.

Effluent treatment programs that have shown continuous reduction in environmental impact.

58% reduction in Global Warming Potential since 1994.

Package simplification – Innovia Films specializes in high functionality films that can help reduce the weight of a package.

Motivation for Change

An undeniable shift is underway in the world of packaging. What are the alternatives to PET, PE, and PP—the petroleum-based plastics most commonly used in packaging? 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.

Cost Effectiveness

Flexible packaging is in itself a ‘reduce strategy’. Switching from any other form of packaging to flexibles is almost inevitably a reduction in packaging. So, …

1) Switch to flexibles to reduce; and,

2) Reduce plastics by switching to NatureFlex™.

Introducing NatureFlex™ into the packaging structure will significantly reduce the amount of plastic used. This strategy can offset any cost differences between traditional packaging plastics and bio-based films such as NatureFlex.

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 1.80 mil 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 certian grades are microwaveable and suitable for oven re-heating.

NatureFlex films can be combined with other biodegradeable packaging materials (e.g. PLA, EcoFlex, Mater-Bi, and 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.

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, thus ensuring completion of the cradle to cradle lifecycle.

Community Benefit

NatureFlex is sourced from managed plantations and is derived from wood pulp. Packaging waste made out of NatureFlex can be disposed of in an industrial or home composting environment, resulting in useful compost, or in aqueous environments such as wastewater. This effectively diverts it from landfills - one of the greatest sources of greenhouse gases. NatureFlex meets both the EU (EN 13432 :2000) and American (ASTM:D6400) composting standards.In addition, as mentioned above, NatureFlex has recently achieved carbon-zero status as Innovia has teamed with co2balance to offset the carbon emissions created during the 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 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 which confirm there are no ecotoxicity concerns during inductrial or home composting scenarios.

NatureFlex films are suitable for incineration, providing the same calorific value as wood.

All NatureFlex films are certified compostable (ASTM D6400, EN13432) and will biodegrade completely in under 42 days when exposed to a combination of heat, moisture, and microbes, all of which occur naturally.

Resource & Energy Optimization

With regards to primary energy consumption, our primary energy source is Natural gas and there is currently no viable renewable alternatives available. However, since 1985 there has been a 30% reduction in fossil fuel use due to improvements in site energy requirements and improvements at raw material manufacturers. In 1985, the CHP unit was installed , which significantly improved the energy efficiency. Subsequent conversion from coal to natural gas further increased conversion from fuel to energy efficiency.By 2009, full processing aid recovery will be implemented on all production lines and a new, more efficient production line will have replaced older equipment, creating further energy efficiencies.

The principal raw material that goes into NatureFlex, wood pulp, is sourced from managed plantations that adhere to Good Forestry Practices (FSC or equivalent).

Finally, as of January 2008, NatureFlex has recently become carbon-neutral as the residual emissions from the manufacture of NatureFlex has been offset by investing funds in projects such as sequestration or re-forestation and energy-efficient projects, which absorb or prevent the release of tonnage of carbon dioxide equivalent to our carbon footprint.

Categories: Consumer Goods Cosmetics/Personal Care Food and Beverage PAC Award Winner

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