By Alec Italiano, contributing writer
International producer of packaging products creates PLA labels adding to the recyclability of certain containers
With a rapidly growing market for environmentally-friendly packaged products, Clondalkin Consumer North America has developed a new label substrate called Polymerized Lactic Acid (PLA). PLA is derived from plant resin (corn starch, sugarcane, and tapioca roots among others), is petroleum free, and is biodegradable. All of these characteristics make PLA an extremely recyclable material.
Although PLA is biodegradable, there is no risk of it disintegrating on shelves. For PLA to be broken down, it must be exposed to temperatures of 140 degrees Fahrenheit or more and a humidity level above 90 percent for 60 to 80 days. These are the conditions of an industrial composter, not a climate controlled supermarket.
Many packaging products — plastic bottles, mulch film, tea bags — are using PLA, but Clondalkin has innovated the market by introducing PLA labels. These labels compliment the company’s already eco-friendly products, allowing environmentally-conscious customers to feel more at ease when making purchases. Because PLA is derived from renewable raw materials, it is not hazardous or toxic during the production process. It decomposes into carbon dioxide, water, and biomass once composted. “We have qualified the processes involved with printing on the PLA material and are pleased to offer this as our first ‘Eco-Friendly’ product within our label division,” says Mike Barrett, VP of business development at Clondalkin. “This is an ongoing process as we continue to look for new products and processes that support our sustainability efforts.”
The process of recycling food packaging and other containers is an emerging problem in cities like New York, which is considering a Styrofoam ban. PLA plastic provides an environmentally friendly option for manufacturers, and now with labels being made with PLA, this could open the door for an innovative solution that recycling plants can handle in highly populated areas.
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