Biolaminates consists of one or more layers such as a non-plastic rigid substrate, an adhesive layer, in contact with the substrate and one or more biolaminate layers, which is laminated to the substrate.
It is becoming more popular following a growing demand for environmentally friendlier products and programs to remove hazardous materials from the environment. PVC (polyvinylchloride) and formaldehyde-based laminate components are now being removed from many applications due to their toxic nature.
Andy Sweetman, marketing manager packaging and sustainability, Innovia Films, told Food ProductionDaily, biolaminates as a concept is now turning into a reality.
“What most consumers don’t realise with flexible packs is the packaging contains laminates of two or more layers with two or more films with different properties, and those properties are married together into those materials,” he said.
“The biolaminate concept takes a basic principle by replacing conventional plastic with more sustainable bioplastics which has two major advantages; using renewable materials, and the option for compostability after use.”
Last year, Ultimate Packaging worked with Innovia Films to create Viridiflex for QV Foods made from renewable raw materials, which draws moisture away from fresh produce to prevent decay.
Using its Natureflex film, manufactured by Innovia Films, the high gloss layer has a degree of permeability to moisture which prevents dehydration on one side and mould growth on the other, helping to extend the shelf-life of a range of fresh produce.
UK supermarket, Asda was the first retailer to launch Viridiflex packed potatoes.
“The project is on-going as we have been carrying out tests to ensure the product ‘reacts’ to the changing state of the potatoes,” added Sweetman.
“The key thing with bioplastics is the permeable to moisture challenge, ie the moisture barrier characteristics. NatureFlex otherwise known as NKME has an excellent barrier performance and there are a number of applications now hitting supermarket shelves, where those constructions are put together.”
In May this year, the company announced a partnership with Bio4Pack to produce a bio based packaging product for DO-IT (Dutch Organic International Trade).
The laminate structure, using a BTI 43 construction, uses NKME to provide a barrier, making it suitable for dry and moist applications such as pasta, cereals, cheese and meat.
NatureFlex compostable films are also being used for Caturra Coffee in South Africa to preserve the coffees aroma and taste.
The company sought advice from Natural Pack a local distributor with a vision for a greener South Africa, about making their packaging match their coffee ethics.
Working with Colpak a local converter, coffee packs were developed using NatureFlex renewable compostable films in their construction.
The coffee pack structure is made using three-layers, which comprises a printable, transparent barrier layer NatureFlex NK 20µm film on the outer layer, a metallised high barrier layer NatureFlex NKME 20µm in middle layer and a 50µm Bio-Polymer sealant layer which provides high seal strength.
“It’s a big market out there, biomaterials are more expensive and tends to be more popular with Fairtrade, organic ethical food sectors,” said Sweetman.
“The focus is on more premium brands, combining the concept of natural food in natural packaging. We believe Viridiflex can go more mainstream due to minimising food waste. It has significant cost savings and reducing food waste is a big story at the moment and a big trend going forward.
“Anything packaging can do to reduce waste and extend shelf life is a trend that continues.”