Canadian Packaging

Dupont Expands PLA Possibilities


October 28, 2008
by Canadian Packaging Staff

Because the future of bioplastics in many ways depends on expanding their range of food-packaging applications, proponents of the bio-based PLA (polylactic acid) polymers have plenty to cheer about following DuPont Packaging’s recent launch of the Biomax Thermal 300 heat-stabilizing modifier, formulated to allow for PLA thermoformed packaging to withstand elevated temperatures during transport, storage and use.

Described as a fully FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration)-compliant polymer modifier that increases the dimensional stability of PLA packaging materials to temperatures of up to 95°C— far above temperatures that packages could be exposed to during storage and shipping before—the new modifier provides for the use of PLA far beyond the traditional chilled-storage packaging applications.

“Because it is bio-based, PLA has strong appeal in food packaging such as produce clamshells and deli trays, as well as selected industrial applications,” explains Susan Homan, North American global marketing manager for sustainable materials with DuPont Packaging.

“However, due to its tendency to deform at temperatures of 55°C and above, its adoption to date has been largely restricted to the packaging of chilled food and beverages,” she adds.

“By offering a modifier that raises the working temperature of PLA, DuPont hopes to enable a broader range of applications for the material.”

According to DuPont, the addition of Biomax Thermal 300 to PLA at low levels has also been demonstrated to have a minimal impact on the material’s clarity, while helping accelerate cycle-times during the two-stage thermoforming process.

Containing 50-percent renewably sourced content by weight, Biomax Thermal is the second modifier for PLA to be introduced by DuPont, which launched the Biomax Strong toughening modifier—formulated to add durability and impact strength for PLA-based rigid packaging—in 2007.

“We are firmly committed to developing sustainable solutions, including solutions that improve the performance of other sustainable offerings in the market,” states Homan, adding that DuPont has already commenced the market introduction of Biomax Thermal in the U.S., with rollouts to Europe and Asia scheduled for early 2009.

“By improving the performance of bio-based and biodegradable products,” says Homan, “our Biomax modifiers can help the packaging industry in achieving this mutually desirable goal.”