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In Sight: Packaging Becomes Eco-friendly
By: Katie Schaefer, Cosmetics & Toiletires
Posted: February 5, 2008, from the February 2008 issue of Cosmetics & Toiletries.
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Biodegradable Catches On
NatureWorks, a subsidiary of Cargill, has created polylactic acid (PLA), a polymer derived from 100% renewable resources such as corn. The company reports that the polymer significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions. If land-filled, the polymer degrades in a few weeks and is inert, thus it does not release harmful toxins into the soil.
Tony Ryan, a chemist at the University of Sheffield, joined forces with designer Helen Storey to create a polymer for fabric that dissolves in hot water. The fabric is knitted from the clear polymer polyvinyl alcohol, which also is being used in sachets to dissolve while releasing laundry detergent. Ryan has been researching dissolving polymers for personal care and home care products as well; for example, he has developed a soap bottle that dissolves in water, yielding a nutrient-rich gel that can be used to grow plants.
Raw material suppliers are also creating biodegradable packaging. BASF created Ecovio plastic, made from 45% PLA obtained from NatureWorks. The packaging is an alternative to polyethylene terephthalate (PET), a plastic containing petroleum that is dwindling in supply.
According to Di Costanzo, Acca Kappa also hopes to apply its new technology into personal care, such as in pots for face cream or bottles for face wash. The company reports it has tested a number of personal care products with its new line of brushes.
“We tried different body washes and toothpastes, all of which did not affect the strength of the tool,” added Di Costanzo.