BI-AX International says its Evlon film is now close in price to petroleum-based products

The time is now: decreasing price and an eco-conscious generation opens doors for biodegradable packaging

By Rachel Arthur

- Last updated on GMT

Evlon biodegradable packaging compostable environment bakery

Related tags Lactic acid Biodegradable packaging Polylactic acid

BI-AX International is eyeing up opportunities for its Evlon biodegradable plastic film, which is made from corn, claiming the product is now comparably priced with petroleum-based products.

The price point has been a barrier to the success of biodegradable packaging, but different pricing will make it more attractive, the company adds.

Baked goods packaging, bread bags, and sandwich wrappers are areas BI-AX believes will grow in the future, and it is also working on thinner films to open up further markets.

Benefit of experience

Evlon used to be 30-40% more expensive than conventional petroleum-based films. Tom Inglis, general manager, BI-AX International, told it is now comparably priced.

“As there are a wide range of pricing and structures tied to widths and volumes, it is hard to put an exact figure on the price of petroleum based products,” ​he said. “Although there are a few exceptions, we feel that our pricing is now typically less than 10% more than the petroleum based films they are replacing.“

Evlon was launched in 2004 and Inglis says the benefit of experience has driven the cost of the film down.

“We have invested in equipment to allow us to recycle in-plant waste.  And after 10 years of making this product, we have simply become better at producing the film with better gauge control and improved efficiencies."

What is it?

Evlon is a clear film made from polylactide (PLA). The PLA, sourced from the company NatureWorks, is derived from corn. This renewable field crop provides starch, which is converted to sugar, then fermented to form lactic acid. Lactic acid is converted into a lactide molecule, then the molecules are polymerized to form PLA.

BI-AX turns the PLA into film, which is used to create packaging for items such as health food and produce wrappers, candy wrappers and snack food bags.

"Evlon has grown more slowly than we had anticipated, and it has had its ups and downs over the years,” ​said Inglis. “It is now gaining momentum again and we think part of that is the new generation coming on now, which is more conscious of environmental issues.

“We think the pricing has been a major deterrent in the past, and we are hoping the new pricing structure will bring more opportunities.”

Areas of growth

"We see a market for many baked goods growing,”​ said Inglis. “Bread bags with an Evlon window benefit from the breathability of Evlon film, reducing the moisture build-up in the bag, and therefore reducing the hardness of the crust often found under the window of a conventional bag.

“We also see growing interest in sandwich wrap and paper bag linings.”

The company is currently working on improved barrier properties for some applications, and new gauges.

"To date, the thinnest film we produce is 20 microns thick,” ​said Inglis. “We are working on a new 15 micron gauge that will significantly increase the yield per pound of film and that will open up some markets for Evlon that were traditionally oil-based films. We are also working on thicker materials for applications such as folding carton and gift card stock."

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