November 12, 2010
by Canadian Packaging Staff
Bottling equipment specialist Norland International Inc. of Lincoln, Neb., has launched what the company claims to be the world’s first oxobiodegradable caps for five-gallon bulk water jugs.
Developed as an eco-friendly alternatives for traditional LDPE (low-density polyethylene) plastic closures, the new injection-molded Earth Cap closures contain a special oxo-biodegradable additive that greatly accelerates the degradation process, according to the company, resulting in total degradation in five to 10 years.
“It’s a significant milestone in meeting the sustainability needs of water-bottlers throughout the world,” says Norland vice-president Sam Noordhoff.
“This is an environmentally-friendly option that goes far beyond lightweighting and other recycling strategies—offering a truly effective means of reducing the environmental impact of these plastic products,” adds Noordhoff.
Also featuring a biodegradable, nonadhesive, tamper-evident label and two-millimeter foam seal—making the entire cap structure totally biodegradable—the 55-mm caps boast two-year shelf-life, according to Norland, which says the cost of manufacturing Earth Caps is virtually identical to that of making standard LDPE caps.
Norland explains that it uses a special proprietary mixing and drying process to blend the new degradation-accelerating additive into the LDPE.
Once discarded and exposed to UV (ultraviolet) light, heat and moisture, the caps begin to embrittle and break down into small pieces. When the molecular weight is reduced sufficiently, the material becomes suitable for biodigestion—essentially becoming a food source for bacteria or microbial activity that ultimately biodegrades the whole cap structure in landfills, ditches, rivers or any type of other water sources.
Claimed to provide the same clarity and tensile-strength characteristics as conventional LDPE closures, the new FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration)-compliant Earth Caps are already commercially available in three standard colors—earth-green, blue and natural—in the U.S. and the Pacific Rim region, according to Norland.