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Applications Re-Engineering the Paper Leaf Bag Article contributed by Mike Ferrara Principal Axiom Marketing Communications Bloomington, MN, USA “Good design is obvious. Great design is transparent.” Industrial designer Paul Kolada took this design axiom to heart -- literally and figuratively -- when he invented and patented the world’s first compostable mesh lawn and leaf bag that allows waste haulers and recycling site personnel to see through the bag. Kolada knew there was a better way when he decided to re-engineer the brown paper yard waste bags that many households in many countries use to collect leaves, grass clippings and branches. His new yard waste collection system called dsolv ® features a mesh bag that allows moisture to drain from the bag and air to freely circulate through the bag. Unlike kraft paper leaf bags, Kolada’s new earth-friendly dsolv bags won’t get soggy and rip when they’re loaded with grass clippings or leaves. In addition to the mesh bags, Kolada’s patented collection system features a spring-loaded sleeve that allows consumers to easily and quickly dump leaves, grass clippings, branches and other yard debris into the mesh bag. “Everything is designed. Few things are designed well.” According to Kolada, this design adage rings especially true in the leaf bag category. “Each year, more than 100 million kraft paper bags are sold in North America,” says Kolada. “For homeowners, the paper bags are extremely hard to fill with leaves and grass clippings. They don’t stay open. They fall over. They’re hard to carry. They rip. And, they can be a soggy mess for garbage haulers to load into trucks.” Kolada notes that government solid waste administrators can be uncomfortable with the fact that garbage haulers can’t easily see what the bags actually contain. Despite this fact, kraft paper yard waste bags have been mandated by most cities and states in North America because there has not been a viable alternative that is environmentally friendly. 36 bioplastics MAGAZINE [06/10] Vol. 5

During the 2008 Christmas holiday season Kolada was intrigued by the plastic netting used to wrap his Christmas tree. He started thinking about other consumer applications for the plastic netting and immediately thought of leaf bags. Then he began to research how to make a mesh that would break down and compost quickly and easily. “Design is a plan for arranging elements in such a way as best to accomplish a particular purpose.” Kolada and his design team searched globally to identify and source bio resins. Their challenge was to find a resin that would compost in several months instead of several years. The resin had to be strong enough and pliable enough to handle up to 170 liters and up to 27 kg of grass clippings, leaves and other yard waste. (Kraft paper bags can hold up to 114 liters and up to 23 kg ). Throughout 2009, the team tested 12 different varieties of PLA compounds before they found the right combination. They conducted dozens of trials with extruders throughout the world to find the perfect combination of function and cost. Melt flow, glass transition temperature and tensile strength were all taken into account. The impact of temperature, atmospheric pressure and humidity were also tested. After all the rigorous testing, Kolada is very proud of the fact that the dsolv bag is certified by the Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI), the U.S. Composting Council, and meets ASTM D6400 standards for compostability. This information is included on a label made from recycled paper and printed with soy ink that is attached to every dsolv bag. “We‘ve done our homework and know what a great bag this is,“ says Kolada. “Now we just need to get it out there into the system.“ bioplastics MAGAZINE [06/10] Vol. 5 37

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