Corn plastic cost-competitive with petroleum-based products
By Canadian Packaging StaffGeneral Sustainability Flexibles Aristo Cuisine Aristo Sandwiches and Salads Inc. BI-AX International Inc. Biodegradable Products Institute corn-based plastic film Evlon plastic film NatureWorks LLC Olivier & Rosemary United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
It even “sounds fresh”. Corn-based Evlon film from BI-AX gives Montreal’s Aristo Cuisine’s premium sandwiches a feel-good-sound-good wrapper that keeps food fresh and the planet green.
As the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has issued its starkest warning yet on climate change linked to the use of fossil fuels, BI-AX International Inc. from Wingham, Ont., is claiming single-digit-percentage price parity for its corn-based Evlon plastic film.
Evlon is available in a wide range of thicknesses that can be used in all manner of consumer packaging, and in the past, carried a price premium 30- to 40-percent higher than conventional petroleum-based films.
“We believe that this weekend’s urgent call from the United Nations to reduce fossil fuel consumption will in turn fuel demand for compostable, biodegradable plastic film made without any hydrocarbon inputs,” says BI-AX International general managerTom Inglis. “Environmentally aware consumers are demanding an earth-friendly approach motivated by knowledge that plastic litter is leaching known carcinogens and hormone disruptors into the earth’s soil and water. Government legislation isn’t far behind, with municipalities across North America demanding that retail stores and corporations pick up more of the tab for recycling mountains of plastic and other waste.”
Evlon is certified by the Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI) as a packaging material that can disintegrate and biodegrade quickly and safely when composted in a professionally managed facility. When composted all that remains is water and carbon dioxide.
The inspiration for Evlon came from the rolling fields surrounding BI-AX’s two manufacturing plants, totaling 265,000 square feet, in the southwestern Ontario farm communities of Wingham and Tiverton.
Evlon’s key ingredient is corn, a renewable field crop that provides starch, converted to sugar, then fermented to form lactic acid. The lactic acid is converted into a lactide molecule using heat, and then the lactic acid molecules are polymerized to form PLA, or Ingeo, provided to BI-AX by NatureWorks LLC of Minnetonka, MN.
BI-AX employs a proprietary process to turn the PLA into manufactured film – the raw material for printable, packaging including health food and produce wrappers, gift bags, candy wrappers, snack food bags, DVD and CD wraps, rigid cosmetics containers, labels, folding cartons and more.
Since Evlon’s introduction in 2004, BI-AX has counted more than 100 consumer packaged goods and food companies as customers, including Montreal, PQ-based Aristo Sandwiches and Salads Inc.
The six-year-old food manufacturing, distribution and catering company operates two brands – Aristo Cuisine and Olivier & Rosemary. The Aristo Cuisine brand supplies premium quality sandwiches to Montreal’s colleges and universities. The brand’s highly educated customer base of professors, instructors and students demand an enlightened approach not just to the food they put into their bodies, but the environmental legacy of how the food is sourced, prepared and packaged, according to Peter Mourdoukoutas, the company’s co-owner.
“We source our ingredients locally, distribute our food fresh every day, and offer a premium sandwich that costs $6-$7,” says Mourdoukoutas, describing one mouth watering example of turkey, bacon, tomato, and lettuce with mayo on Ciabatta bread. “We label our Evlon wrapper as 100% biodegradable and our regular customers in the chemical engineering and medical faculties have pointed out it’s a great selling point for our products. Young, educated consumers definitely notice our environmentally friendly packaging, and it’s part of our brand.”
Mourdoukoutas also says that the Evlon packaging keeps his sandwiches fresher longer.
“Because our products are not treated with any preservatives, they stay fresher with the oxygen allowed through the Evlon packaging.”
Another unintended benefit of Evlon is that the film makes a crisp, clean sound when a sandwich is opened.
“Students tell me that when they smuggle a sandwich into class and open it, the noise is noticeable. But when I asked if we should try to work on making the packaging quieter, they say ‘No! It sounds fresh. We like that,'” adds Mourdoukoutas.
Continuing, Mourdoukoutas also praises the BI-AX team’s abilities to accommodate his company’s needs.
“They’re great at what they do. At the beginning our vending machines had trouble adjusting to the Evlon packaging, so they sent us different gauges of film and gave us advice so that the sandwiches could be handled without difficulty. We are very thankful for BI-AX’s ongoing service commitment.”
For more information on BI-AX, visit www.biaxinc.com.