Brands and retailers increasingly recognize that sustainable packaging presents an opportunity for differentiation. Many in fact have sustainable packaging goals. By 2018, nearly 12MM tons of polyethylene (PE) will be consumed in flexible packaging. Opportunities exist for sustainability improvements, but cost and performance properties of bioplastic films have been a challenge.
DuPont Performance Materials’ Ethylene Copolymers technical team collaborated with BiologiQ, a recently founded bio-plastics producer, to create the “Tater-Made Sustainable Bag.” This bag is made from 25% potato waste and enables a 50% reduction in the amount of polyethylene (PE) needed. The bag is being used by a major U.S. retailer to package its own private-label potatoes.
The BiologiQ team reached out to DuPont based on the depth of DuPont’s technical expertise and commitment to sustainable solutions. Brad LaPray, BiologiQ founder and president, has said that without DuPont’s resins and technical expertise, the Tater- Made Bag would not have been possible.
The companies brainstormed and the DuPont team focused on providing a compatibilizer that with two goals:
- Consistently blend the starch and the PE to assure that performance was at least as good, or better, than the incumbent PE-only bags.
- Support down gauging to keep the structure monolayer and minimize costs.
The DuPont team rapidly tested a variety of options on a compressed timeline. After many iterations, starch blends containing DuPont™ Bynel® resin proved to perform as well (and in some ways, better) than the incumbent PE-only structure while keeping the bag cost neutral through downgauging.
The project is already exceeding expectations. It has won numerous awards including the ‘2015 Flexible Packaging Association’s Silver Achievement Award’ in Sustainability for Plant Starch-Based films. Most importantly, it has been adopted nationwide by a major U.S. retailer for its private label brand of potatoes.
The 50% reduction in polyethylene in all private label potato bags throughout the major U.S. retailer’s stores will drive reductions in fossil fuel used and in PE going to landfill after use. The success of the project has led DuPont to explore other opportunities for PE structure replacements including shopping bags and disposable consumer packaging for other root vegetables. This project is a terrific example of DuPont experts using their scientific knowledge in collaboration with customers to create innovative, sustainable solutions.