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Bio-based food packaging rolled out for cheese producer

By Joe Whitworth , 24-Feb-2012

Bio-based food packaging rolled out for cheese producer

Clear Lam Packaging said it has developed a 50% plant-based plastic food package that will reduce greenhouse gases and energy during manufacturing.

Producing the material uses 35% less greenhouse gases and 37% less energy than conventional petroleum-based materials, claimed the company.

The package, for cheese-maker Lactalis, is derived from PLA (polylactic acid) and the outer layer is made from petroleum-based plastic.

Roman Forowycz, corporate chief marketing officer at US-based Clear Lam Packaging, said the firm is working on many different structures to increase renewable content in packaging for perishable goods.

The greenhouse gas emission savings and the energy savings are based on the actual reduced levels generated in the manufacturing of the PLA resin as compared to the traditional petroleum based materials that are being replaced.

Carbon footprint awareness

Consumers, retailers and consumer packaged goods companies are becoming more aware of ‘carbon footprint’ and are beginning to act.”

The film is being used for US-headquartered Lactalis’ Precious Sticksters branded cheese sticks as part of Clear Lam’s Project EarthClear.

Forowycz said: “Renewable packaging reduces our dependency on petroleum, helps to reduce greenhouse gases and energy consumption and ultimately will create an opportunity to compost our packaging waste.

Three main technologies

Project EarthClear encompasses three main technologies. They are: flexible and rigid packaging made from renewable resources not oil, flexible and rigid packaging made from recycled plastic or paper and lightweighting technologies to move away from pre-made cans, bottles and jars,” he said.

The specialists for food and health care packaging materials produce the proprietary bio-based layer used in the film.

It is then shipped to a Lactalis production facility and packaged on horizontal form, fill and seal machines.

Forowycz added: “The new Lactalis cheese stick packaging is produced from a laminated film that includes plant based Ingeo polylactic acid and a layer of traditional petroleum based plastics.

The polylactic acid resin is produced by Natureworks in the US. Corn sugars are fermented to create lactic acid which is then polymeralized to make polylactic acid.

Clear Lam extrudes the PLA with other additives to create specific performance features. Then this layer of PLA is laminated to a polyolefin to create the final packaging material,” he added.

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