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05 | 2010

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Cover-Story Innovative

Cover-Story Innovative Biodegradable and Compostable Cling Film Article contributed by Stefano Facco New Business Development Director Novamont, Novara, Italy Novamont continues its development with the Second Generation Mater-Bi ® products: at K’2010 (the international trade fair for plastics and rubber), taking place in Düsseldorf, Germany from October 27th to November 3rd, Novamont will be unveiling the first industrial cling film that is biodegradable and compostable and is made using renewable resources. Plastic food packaging film, known as cling film or cling wrap, has in the past literally revolutionised the food industry. It has become a major contributor to food safety, both protecting and preserving it. At the same time it is now regarded as an essential and cost-effective tool for food presentation. These films do contribute to food safety, they protect food from micro-organism and fast deterioration due to uncontrolled water and oxygen exchange. It also seals in odours to prevent them from spreading to other foods stored nearby. Since plastic wrap is difficult to recycle and is rarely reused, it often contributes to unsorted household waste. New options, such as possible compostability, do offer new recycling possibilities by using already well established waste streams, such as the one for kitchen waste. 10 bioplastics MAGAZINE [05/10] Vol. 5

Cover-Story The demand for this specific application was already raised some 10 years ago, when first brand owners, retailers and catering companies started to search for a product which had similar mechanical properties to PVC, a more favourable environmental profile like polyolefines, and a further end of life option, in this case composting, which would allow these products, generally highly contaminated with foodstuff, to be recycled aerobically or anaerobically. The development took quite a long time, as the technical profile of such a product is complex, taking into consideration various benchmarks which had to be met. First of all, of course, the optical appearance and transparency, which has to be similar to that offered by the conventionally used materials. Another important aspect is the balanced mechanical properties at very low gauge, as such films are mainly used in the gauge of 10 to 12 µm, with extremely high puncture resistance and excellent elongation values. Another major target which had to be achieved was the cling property of the film, on itself as well as on glass or ceramic. But one of the most exciting and outstanding properties achieved was a perfectly tuned water vapour transmission rate (WVTR) which allows many products to be kept fresh for longer in the fridge. The stretchy cling film can be used for any kind of foodstuffs, even food that has a high fat content (oils, sauces, butter, etc.) or that is acidic. This property is not always given for standard materials, depending on the raw materials and its additives. The product was developed by Novamont together with its partners and has outstanding technical characteristics of strength and stretch similar or better than traditional products developed for domestic use without using any plasticisers or additives that could transfer into food. After use it can be disposed of as organic waste as it has been certified as compostable in accordance with standard EN13432 and is compatible with various kinds of composting plant technology. Besides the very peculiar and newly developed extrusion conditions, it is specially formulated to be easy to tear off without needing a serrated cutting edge, making it safer and more convenient. As previously described, an intrinsic characteristic of the material is its high permeability to water vapour, helping to evaporate the condensation that forms particularly with warm food or in the fridge. This makes it ideal for preserving and protecting foodstuffs. Mater-Bi is the main product developed by Novamont. While providing the same strength and performance as traditional plastics, it is made of renewable resources of agricultural origin. It reduces greenhouse gas emissions and the consumption of energy and non-renewable resources, thus completing a virtuous circle: the raw materials of agricultural origin return to the earth through processes of biodegradation and composting, without releasing pollutants. www.novamont.com Photo: Philipp Thielen Our covergirl Anna thinks: “This is great: biobased and biodegradable packaging, and now this new compostable cling film – that is what we have really been waiting for.” bioplastics MAGAZINE [05/10] Vol. 5 11

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