Bioplastics in the Packaging Industry

BIOPLASTICS IN THE PACKAGING INDUSTRY


While everyone is familiar with the price of oil and the resulting - seemingly never ending - hike in gas prices, the packaging industry suffers similar damage as a result of a dependency on petroleum.  In general, the raw materials used for most plastics in the packaging industry will include petroleum.  As oil prices increase, so does the price of bottles, lids, caps and other packaging components.  Bioplastics offer an alternative to oil-based plastics that may have a significant influence on the packaging and packaging machinery of the future.

Bioplastics use organic plastics derived from renewable cellulose, corn starch, vegetable oil and other similar products in place of petroleum.  The bioplastics allow for more sustainable plastic production by reducing waste and lowering emissions, but will not completely eliminate the need for petroleum as an energy source.  Petroleum will still be required in the production process as well as in the agricultural process and transportation, but bioplastics do have the potential to significantly reduce our carbon footprint.

There can be little doubt that our current "Age" will likely go down in history as the Plastic Age, and finding new and innovative ways to create and use plastics is important to the health and welfare of our planet.  In the packaging industry, new materials will almost always have an effect on how products are packaged, as well as the machinery used to do that packaging.  While bioplastics are a fairly new product competing with a well entrenched petroleum industry, they have continued to acquire an increased part of the market for more than a decade now.

For example, flexible packaging - bags, pouches, foils and the like - is seeing increased popularity, and if bioplastics continue their upward trend in the packaging process these two components of packaging may lift each other into the forefront of the industry.  If packagers and consumers move away from bottles and toward pouches and bags, packaging equipment manufacturers will be forced to re-think the design of belt conveyor systems, filling systems, capping machines and all other packaging machinery.  The conventional, or "standard", filling machines for glass bottles, PET bottles and other containers simply are not designed to fill a pouch or bag without some type of adjustment or modification. It will do little good to send flat bags or pouches down a conveyor system if they cannot be filled or capped.  Similarly, what good is the automatic capper if there is no way to fill the pouch?  Many bags or foil packages may also be produced with a logo or other design on the package, which is likely to produce a huge change in the labeling industry and labeling machines in general.  

This is not to say that change is bad, but rather that packaging machine manufacturers need to be prepared for - and be willing to adapt to - a shift in the way that packaging is done.  At Liquid Packaging Solutions, Inc., we understand that the packaging industry and packaging equipment must constantly change in an attempt not only to give packagers and consumers what they want, but also to do so in an environmentally friendly, efficient and productive manner.  For this reason, LPS welcomes custom packaging projects that allow us to design and create the next generation of packaging systems.  To see a few of our recent custom projects, including pouch filling and capping, just follow the custom projects link.

If you would like to speak with a Packaging Specialist about your unique project or about packaging machinery and options in general, contact Liquid Packaging Solutions, Inc. toll free at 1-888-393-3693.