Carbon Neutral NatureFlex Film Supports Development of Anaerobic Digestion

Innovia Films has gained CarbonNeutral® certification for its full range of cellulose-based NatureFlex™ coated biodegradable and compostable packaging films.

The certification was achieved following an independent assessment of the CO2 emissions produced in the manufacture of coated NatureFlex products and then a reduction of this to net zero through carbon offsetting. The carbon offset projects that counter balance the CO2 emissions were specifically chosen as they support the development of anaerobic digestion (AD) facilities in the Netherlands. The carbon offset project reduces methane emissions into the atmosphere and displaces fossil fuels used to heat local buildings.

“The fit between this type of project and NatureFlex is perfect as NatureFlex is suitable for disposal using emerging waste to energy techniques such as AD, aiding the diversion of organic wastes from landfill,” says Andy Sweetman, Innovia Films’ business development and sustainability manager.

AD is the process by which plant and animal material (biomass) is converted into useful products by micro-organisms in the absence of air. Almost any biomass from manure to municipal waste (except for wooden material) can be put inside a digester tank where naturally occurring organisms gradually break it down.

Contribution to renewable energy supply

Dr John Williams, polymers and materials manager from the NNFCC says: “Filmic food packaging is notoriously difficult to segregate and recycle economically. However, make that packaging from a biopolymer and it can go into a digester along with the food waste, simplifying waste disposal for consumers, diverting biodegradable waste from landfill and providing renewable low carbon energy. The advent of enhanced sorting and identification systems for conventional polymers also means that biopolymers can be easily distinguished from their petrochemical counterparts during waste segregation.”

In terms of what AD could mean for waste management in the future, Dr Williams adds: “The UK produces over 100 million tonnes of organic material suitable for treatment by AD. If this material managed to find its way into digesters we could produce 10-20TWh of heat and power per year by 2020. The UK now has a Renewable Energy Strategy for the delivery of 15% renewable energy by 2020, and with government backing the technology, AD promises to contribute significantly to our renewable energy demands.”

The NatureFlex range of films comprises a transparent cellulose base manufactured from sustainable wood pulp. By adding specially formulated biodegradable and compostable surface layers, Innovia Films is able to control the moisture permeability of these films to produce material suitable across a whole range of applications from high moisture content fresh produce to more hygroscopic bakery products.

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