Recently, there has been a strong focus on replacing plastic packaging with more eco-friendly alternatives in New Zealand at the moment. Disposable plastic shopping bags are on their way out, and they’ve already been banned in many places.
It would be easy to get caught up in this by avoiding all plastics and putting them in the ‘bad plastics’ category. But are all the plastic bags and wrap we use the same? Are there any plastics out there that eco-friendly businesses can still use as a form of packaging?
Sure, new degradable, compostable and biodegradable bioplastics are being developed and are entering the market, but you may be surprised that some of these biodegradable plastics have been a part of our everyday lives and business practices for years. Cellophane, is a great example of a bioplastic that New Zealanders have been using for years, with many being unaware of the environmental benefits it presents.
In this blog we look at the composition of cellophane and why its an excellent eco choice for your business.
Cellophane is plant based
That’s right. Cellophane is made from plants and even gets its name from cellulose, the structural component of plants. Cellophane can be produced from easily grown crops such as hemp or farmed trees. We all know what cellophane is, as it feels like it’s always been around. Cellophane became commercially available from the 1920’s. It was extremely popular as a wrap until the 60’s which brought in the rise of the petrochemical based plastics that consumers and businesses are now trying to avoid and ban today.
Modern bioplastics are also plant based, but the difference is that they are primarily made from corn – a crop grown on land that could be better put to use growing a crop that could be eaten. This then gives cellophane a strong advantage, as it can be made from crops that are capable of growing in harsh conditions and on land that would be avoided for food production.
Cellophane is compostable
Cellophane will biodegrade - the time it takes to break down will vary depending on whether it’s coated or not. Research finds that uncoated cellulose film only takes 10 days to 1 month to degrade when buried, and if coated with nitrocellulose it will degrade in approximately 2 to 3 months.
If it’s in a freshwater environment, the uncoated film has a 10-day rate of biodegradation and coated cellulose film can take up to a month. This really is a fast rate for a plastic to naturally compost and considering many people wouldn’t know this was possible, it’s a far more ‘green’ and eco-friendly business option than people think.
Another interesting point is that when comparing cellophane degradability with bioplastics made with corn, cellophane breaks down much quicker. And there are some concerns around recycling corn-based bioplastics which are currently classified as a number 7 plastic resin, which means they fall into the “other” category.
Using cellophane in your business
There are loads of eco-friendly cellophane packaging and wrapping options for you to use in your business. At Primepac we offer a range of flat, gusseted and wine cellophane bags to choose from that are both practical and environmentally sustainable.