Biopolymer applications are springing up throughout the packaging landscape like wildflowers, adding fresh touches of “green” to markets sensitized to sustainability. More...


Biopolymers are springing up throughout the packaging landscape like wildflowers, adding fresh touches of “green” to markets sensitized to sustainability. Among the applications for foods, bio-film bags seem to be a highly popular variety this year.

We recently reported on Snyder’s pretzels, which made the move into snacks packed in bags made of Ingeo brand polylactic acid (PLA) from NatureWorks LLC

Snyder’s is following along the lines of Frito-Lay’s SunChips conversion from a 33% PLA structure last year to a 100% compostable PLA structure in 2010. However, Snyder’s film vendor, Clear Lam Packaging, used a special bag formulation to reduce the crinkling found with the SunChips’ bags, an aspect that Frito-Lay puts a green spin to by calling it “the new sound of green.” 

Snyder’s formulation reduces the noise and, along with a metalized layer to provide barrier protection, reduces the amount of PLA to 90%. 

Not all bio-film bag structures rely on PLA. Consider Boulder Canyon, which claims to be using the first compostable packaging for natural snack food. Instead of PLA, the 7.5-ounce bags are made from wood pulp sourced from plantations that have Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) or similar certification.

The packaging uses materials that are certified to meet the "Specification for Compostable Plastics" standards set by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). The bags can be composted in home or industrial composters, recycled through approved organic recycling programs, or incinerated at modern incineration plants.

The company says the wood pulp sourcing avoids the potential negative impact on existing food supplies of biopolymers made from corn or other starches such as PLA.

The new packaging is available immediately at Colorado-area Whole Foods stores with a suggested retail price of $3.49 to $3.99.

A fresh new segment for this kind of sustainable bag structure springs up with Stahlbush Island Farms, Corvallis, Oregon, which launched a first-of-its-kind biodegradable bag-BioBag-for the company’s frozen fruit and vegetable lines. Supplied by Cadillac Products Packaging Co., the bag’s green properties feature brown kraft paper and water-based ink. The company reports that the key challenge was to create a biodegradable bag that maintains a normal shelf life across the products.

On yet another flexible front, calcium carbonate-a common, naturally-occurring material found in limestone used recently in bowls for General Mills’ Betty Crocker Warm Delights -is being applied to kraft-paper-based substrates applicable for bags, sacks, and pouches by Smart Planet Technologies, a supplier of sustainable packaging materials.The ongoing sustainable materials’ “race” in flexible films and other formats will continue to flourish while benefitting brand owners and, hopefully, the environment.