Supplied by UK converter Parkside Performance Films the Co-op has launched what it claims are Britain’s “first 100 per cent degradable” plastics bread wrappers. Although said to be as strong and safe as standard bread wrappers, they will fully degrade to carbon dioxide, water and organic residue after approximately four years. In contrast, the Co-op says: “Standard plastics bread bags take100 years or more” to degrade. The retailer’s figures suggest some 1.67billion bread bags are produced in the UK ever year and, with each bag weighing an average of six grammes, this generates 10,521t of waste.
The bags were developed by Parkside in conjunction with the major bread producer and the supplier of the polymer additive. “As big polyethylene extruders and bag makers to the bread industry we needed to develop a degradable material,” said Richard Cheetham, group marketing, at Parkside International. Material is extruded at the company’s Darton plant, where it is also printed flexo in up to seven colours on a Windmöller and Hölscher press before being converted into wicketted bags. “They don’t cost more and properties are similar to standard material. They do not show detrimental keeping properties and can be frozen,” he added.
The technology has been independently tested and proven to be environmentally safe, leaving no toxic substances at the end of the degradation process. The material has also been tested as safe for direct food contact under EU standards, added the company and has no detrimental effects on Parkside’s production, the packing line or indeed the bread.
The additive gives light degradation (photo-oxidative breakdown) as well as compostability (bio-degradability ). It degrades in landfill or if littered.
The Co-op launch followed a recent survey – ‘Shopping with Attitude’ – in which 60 per cent of the 29,500 people questioned said retailers should use only degradable or biodegradable materials.
Christine Clarke, head of Co-op brand and corporate marketing, adds: “Our survey into the ethics of supermarket products demonstrated that on every count including packaging consumers are more concerned today than they were 10 years ago.”
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