Gathered around a table, researchers and scientists from a plastic manufacturing firm anxiously stare into a Petri dish not knowing whether their latest experiment will produce the solution they have so desperately been in search of.
One scientist carefully removes the lid of a Petri dish containing a volatile, corrosive acid that could cause serious injury. Reaching into the dish ever-so-slowly with a pair of tweezers, the scientist removes a translucent film that researchers later discover could help save our planet.
Eliminating plastic waste from our landfills is an issue that companies across the globe are trying to combat. Creating an alternative to plastic isn’t easy. Those who are able to create their own innovative solutions spend thousands of dollars on research and development, not to mention time–it usually takes a few years until a viable solution is discovered.
Although not everyone is successful, one company has developed a bio-plastic manufacturing process that helps reduce environmental impact, and could revolutionize the packaged foods industry.
Plastic producer Futamura has partnered with sustainable packaging producer Bio4Pack, to create NatureFlex™ – a sustainable solution to combat the growing issue that is pollution. Most renewable bio-plastics are made using materials such as corn, potatoes, or wheat; however, NatureFlex™ bags are produced using Cellulose, one of the most abundant organic materials on our planet.
This Cellulose actually comes from the wood pulp of sustainably harvested trees, making it anywhere from 90% to 99% fully compostable. The process is simple: by taking pieces of wood and soaking them in Trifluoroacetic acid, you are separating the cellulose cells from the sugar molecules, creating a cellophane-like film as a result. That “cellophane” is then used to manufacture NatureFlex™ bags.
Not only do these bags help reduce our carbon footprint, but they are also extremely similar to regular synthetic polymer bags, providing the same texture and durability. Thanks to this break-through manufacturing process, the NatureFlex™ bag could very well become the future of packaged foods.