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Biodegradable packaging options overview

Biodegradable Packaging Options Overview

biodegradable packagin options

Until recently, the major barrier to the widespread adoption of biodegradable packaging options has been cost.  This barrier has been effectively removed by the introduction of several new forms of packaging, most of which are derived from agricultural by-products. EnviroMall offers two of these emerging products at prices that are cost-comparable to traditional plastics and polystyrene.

Bagasse Biodegradable Packaging

Bagasse is the pulp of sugar cane after the sucrose has been extracted.  Until recently the bagasse was destroyed after sugar production, but new methods have enabled it to be converted into a lightweight, durable and biodegradable packaging.  Bagasse is cost-comparable to polystyrene, and also offers a number of added benefits:

  • It can withstand freezing and oven temperatures, and is microwave safe
  • It is more durable and has a better quality feel than polystyrene and plastics
  • Has no odour or taste, and does not affect the taste of food

The one thing bagasse cannot do is be made transparent.  This means it is suitable for take-away containers, hot drinks, plates and utensils, but not for clear lids or cold drinks. For this, we can offer Polylactic Acid packaging.

Polylactic Acid Biodegradable Packaging

Polylactic Acid is made from corn starch resin and other natural starches, products that are produced abundantly in Southern Africa. PLA has the added benefit of being highly transparent, without needing to be modified by bleaching agents or other chemicals. The raw ingredients of Polylactic Acid are simple feedstock, and the by-products of its decomposition are simply carbon dioxide and water.

This makes it an ideal biodegradable packaging for salad boxes, cold drinks, or food container lids that need to showcase their contents.  PLA’s benefits include:

  • Clear appearance normally only found in processed plastics
  • Requires 50% less energy to produce than similar plastics
  • Biodegrades in under 90 days
  • Excellent sealing performance

The only shortcoming of Polylactic Acid is that it is not very resistant to temperatures above 40 degrees C.  This means that it cannot be microwaved or put in the oven.  This means that it is usually necessary to combine Polylactic Acid transparent containers and bagasse cutlery, crockery and takeaway containers to have completely petro-chemical-free food packaging.