Raepak (Wymondham, UK), a global supplier of plastic packaging, has introduced two new 100% recyclable biopolymer bottles that the company claims are direct replacements for standard HDPE and PET fossil-fuel-based plastics. One is a 100% biobottle and the other is a 50% biobottle that includes 50% post-consumer recycled (PCR) content. The bioplastic bottles provide these benefits, according to Raepak:
- Lower greenhouse gas emissions, reduced carbon footprint;
- Made from renewable raw materials;
- Derived from sugarcane waste, not from oil;
- No deforestation;
- No atmospheric carbon dioxide is generated;
- Fits back into the recycling chain;
- No difference in performance or color as standard oil-based bottles;
- Same manufacturing processes;
- Can be combined with PCR material.
David Irvine, Raepak’s head of digital & marketing, answers PlasticsToday’s questions.
What interest is there in these sustainable solutions?
Irvine: These biopolymer bottles made from sugarcane offer the same benefits as conventional HDPE or PET polymer bottles. Many companies have made enquiries regarding this new alternative because it lowers their carbon footprint output. The emphasis on climate change is forcing business owners to re-think their packaging.
What applications are most suitable for the bioplastic bottles?
Irvine: Both established brands and new ones can use these bottles for their market audience. Using the biopolymer bottles can help consumers have a choice in helping the environment by reading the label. This helps with having more confidence in a brand and staying loyal to a product that’s helping with a sustainable future.
The biopolymer alternative can be used in all market sectors as they offer the same benefits as HDPE and PET containers. It’s the ethanol being extracted from the sugarcane that provides advantages, as it doesn’t increase atmospheric carbon dioxide and offers a reduced carbon footprint.
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What’s the cost premium vs. conventional containers?
Irvine: Like any new product that comes to market, the cost is unfortunately slightly higher. This can even out slightly if the MOQs are large when compared to small orders. HDPE and PET containers will be cheaper because the raw materials can be purchased at lower cost to the manufacture.
The 50/50 bottle is the cheaper of these two biobottles to produce and businesses find the smaller Minimum Order Quantity orders attractive.
Are these available as stock or custom containers?
Irvine: Raepak won’t store biopolymer containers as a stock item at the moment. If the demand increases over the coming next few years, then it can look to replace popular HDPE and PET containers with biopolymer as standard sizes. Because the biopolymer bottles are made-to-order, any shape or size can be manufactured.
How might customers message the use of biopolymers?
Irvine: Brands adopting the biopolymer change can display the “I’M GREEN” trademark seal on their packaging to let the consumer make a better choice before purchase.
What’s the market status?
Irvine: Raepak offers a free online sample bay and customer-friendly account managers to help with all enquires. This means any company who is considering to use the biopolymer alternative can order samples. It’s the ideal solution for product testing, product compatibility and obtaining feedback for any potential problems that could occur in the manufacturing or filling process.
What countries/regions are these available in?
Irvine: Raepak is a global supplier and can work with companies anywhere.
Will your markets continue to be 100% devoted to cosmetics packaging?
Irvine: Although Raepak’s main core business is cosmetics, the company has plans in November 2017 to roll out a new pharmaceutical range of products. This industry sector is growing significantly and the demand from enquiries is on the rise. Some of the products being developed will be nasal spray, throat spray and pharmaceutical grade dispensing pumps.
Anything else to mention?
Irvine: Biopolymers seem to be the best alternative at the moment for a sustainable alternative. Research is getting us closer to offering a biodegradable option that has all the same benefits as biopolymer, HDPE and PET plastic products. The biggest problem at the moment is shelf life and liquid compatibility.
Lastly: Where does the name Raepak come from?
Irvine: Raepak was founded in 1994 by the two original owners Paul Randle and Bernard Allen. The used their initials RAE and bolted on the PAK to showcase the fact that the company specialises in packaging. The two owners sold the company in 2016 to Andrew Paterson who was a shareholder and director at the time.
The company also reports that biodegradable product options have been successfully trialed with blow-molded HDPE, PP bottles, jars, caps and polyethylene tubes. A blend of oxo-biodegradable ingredients is mixed with the polymer in the manufacturing process. This breaks down the product by making it brittle, which shortens the overall degradability time. Instead of hundreds of years, the plastic can start to break down in 5 years. Raepak sees it as an alternative for plastic products that are unlikely to be recycled.
More information is available at the Raepak.com website.