What will the packaging of the future be like? Many of us imagine futuristic products, perhaps packages with technology, highly customisation according to the desired target, changing at the time of day and depending on the purchase, etc…but what is certain is that the package of the future will have to be sustainable.
Current proposals to improve packaging sustainability are focused on monomaterials and the substitution of PET by other materials. Recycled plastics such as r-PET (with different recycling rates, currently ranging from 40 to 90%), the new generation of PE and biocompostable materials such as PLA (polylactic acid) are currently coming into play.
Polylactic acid (PLA): the biocompostable non-plastic
Polylactic acid (PLA) is one of the big bets for the future, as its ability to be composted again to generate new sources of material and become part of the circular economy is of increasing interest to the public, albeit costly.
It is a product whose base materials are obtained from corn or cassava starch or sugar cane. As such, it is of 100% vegetable origin. Quimidroga distributes a PLA obtained from corn.
This product has applications similar to those of polyethylene terephthalate (BOPET) or polypropylene (BOPP), which makes it a good alternative for the manufacturing of packages, but that can also be biodegradable under certain temperature and moisture conditions.
Sleeves for package customisation
The Sleeve is one of the best options for presenting customised packaging. It is a type of packaging that is highly adaptable and fits perfectly to the package. It is a second skin for the package allowing to give it a different aesthetic, as well as including all the needed information about the product.
As a biocompostable material, polylactic acid (PLA EF TDO) is an ideal solution for products intended to be marketed under the green label.
Strips to cover coconuts with all the product information written on it and with the straw for eating it later; sleeves for bottles of wine or cava of organic brands…these are just some of the many applications of PLA in sleeves.
Use of PLA in lamination
In recent years biomaterials such as PLA have entered the packaging industry with great force. They become films that offer more environmentally friendly solutions. Films made from these types of biomaterials have been improving their transparency and performance against the demands of traditional packaging.
Films that are to be converted into packages must normally be laminated to obtain a more secure and higher barrier packaging thus better protecting the product inside.
Polylactic acid (PLA EF UL) is used in the manufacture of laminates for all kinds of applications: windows in breadstick bags, windows for cardboard boxes, doypacks for coffee, pizza seasonings with Kraft paper or stickpacks for energy bars, among many others.
The PLA life cycle
What makes PLA special is the possibility to recover it in a composting plant. This means a reduction in the consumption of fossil fuels and petroleum derivatives, and therefore a lower environmental impact.
This feature makes it possible to close the circle, returning the composted PLA to the manufacturer in the form of compost to be used again as fertiliser in their corn plantations.