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West’s Packaging is at the cutting edge of the development of flexible packaging products with greatly improved environmental credentials.

Most current flexible packaging films are sourced from petroleum based derivatives.
They are fossil fuels that are also a finite reserve
They are manufactured in very large quantities and have shown themselves over many years to be efficient, cheap and suitable of a wide variety of purposes.
They bring excellent benefit to the finished food item, and with statistics suggesting over 96% of the carbon footprint is in the food product itself, protection of this valuable asset is critical .

Paper based bags offer very little product protection or shelf stability.
They have no wet strength and can tear easily.

The ideal pack would consist of hermetic seal integrity, functionality for use, strong graphic display and be easily machineable and very cost effective.
The last decade has seen a focus on compostability – an “end of product life” solution that minimises land fill.
This goal is realised with Innovia’s range of single structure Natureflex products.
Many are certified Home Compostable by OK Compost’s UK certification.
There are a limited range of certified compostable inks for surface print only.
These films have a limited range of uses.

Unfortunately compostable has become unachievable for any complex packaging solution.
Adhesives required to manufacture a laminated structure made of multiple parts are not compostable and this will prove unsuitable for any certification.

environmental-iconWith this understanding the market is moving towards the “start of life” of the packaging.
Renewable and sustainable sourcing of the raw materials.

environmental-leftTake COFFEE as an example.
40,000 litres of water are required to deliver just 1kg of coffee beans. These are usually grown in other parts of the world and transported to Australia in shipping containers, a long and arduous journey. It is critical that the environmental investment in this finished product, namely roasted coffee beans, is not compromised. Any extra spoilage would certainly nullify the benefits of a more environmentally friendly pack.

Any new packaging medium would need to offer all of the fundamentals required: hermetic seals, machinability, high barrier credentials for product protection and excellent graphic appeal.

So instead of using Biaxially Oriented PolyPropylene laminated to a Metallised Polyester laminated to an LLDPE, it would be possible to use other options.


A Natureflex film used as a print web, laminated to a high barrier metallised Natureflex and then laminated to an Ethanol based PE would solve this issue.
The Innovia Natureflex films are sourced from sustainable forestry.
Traditional LLDPE is sourced from Ethylene, a petro by-product.
Changing this to Sugar Cane based Ethanol means the sourcing is both able to be regrown and can be managed long term.
Renewable and Sustainable.

  • We haven’t mentioned cost
  • The compostable options have proven to be very expensive – up to 150% more in cost.
  • The Renewable and sustainable films options are proving to be 20 – 30% more expensive.
  • This is certainly more acceptable at the point of sale.

No panacea, but certainly some steps in the right direction.

The test programmes for EN 13432 and ASTM D6400 confirm the suitability of a material for composting in an industrial composting plant. In this situation, the conditions are optimised for biodegradation at a temperature of ca. 58 °C
In many countries however, consumers actively compost their garden waste at home, either in compost bins or heaps, eliminating the need for collection. These processes are more variable due to lower temperatures (rarely more than 2 to 3C above ambient temperature) at less optimised conditions. Under these conditions, certain compostable materials do not exhibit sufficient biodegradation.
Most NatureFlex™films have been tested and approved to the OK Compost Home Standard, which repeats the EN 13432 test protocol at ambient temperatures, albeit over a longer time frame. They can therefore be successfully composted in a home composting environment and typically break down in just a few weeks.
Soil and Waste Water Biodegradation
The NatureFlex™ NE30 grade has been tested to the MITI aqueous biodegradation test (ISO 14851) which demonstrates that it will also break down in waste water and in soil, as well as under home composting conditions.
Anaerobic Digestion
Almost all families of NatureFlex™films have been tested to ISO 15985 (High solids anaerobic digestion test) at 52°C. After 15 days all the films exceeded the test requirements, reaching a similar level of biodegradation to the reference.

Marine Biodegradation

The Key elements of the EN 13432 and AS4736 compliance include: Biodegradation Minimum 90% biodegradation versus a control sample in a maximum of six months. For NatureFlex ™ films this is typically achieved in less than 45 days. Disintegration A pilot composting test ensures that the material physically breaks down within three months. Material Characterisation Includes heavy metal testing and determination of the volatile solid content. Ecotoxicity Compost from the disintegration test is used to ensure that the components have no adverse effects on the plant growth. Specifically for AS4736, an additional test, commonly referred to as worm toxically testing, is required. European Bioplastics Association Industrial Composting Factsheet

NatureFlex™ films are certified in accordance with the Industrial composting standards, EN13432 and ASTM D6400, by Din Certco and the BPI. In addition, all standard NatureFlex films are suitable for home composting and have been certified to ‘OK Compost home’ by Vincotte. They have also been certified to AS4736 by the ABA following successful completion of the worm toxicity test.
In order to achieve the certification from the official agencies, the relevant test programmes must be completed by an independent accredited test house.
Customers who use certified materials can apply for a ‘product certification’, so that products wrapped in certified packaging can carry the relevant composting logo. This logo allows packaging to be disposed of in the most appropriate manner, where the infrastructure exists. Product certifications can be applied for, based on our NatureFlex certifications. The testing requirements and costs involved will vary depending on the complexity of the conversion carried out on the materials.
Customers should seek advice from their Innovia Films contact and/or the ABA, Din Certco, Vincotte or AFOR (Association for Organics Recycling).

The use of flexible films allows companies to provide cost-effective packaging solutions coupled with excellent product protection characteristics. In this way all packaging films contribute to waste reduction throughout the packaged-goods supply chain.
However, the very nature of flexible packaging; lightweight and mixed materials, food contamination, inks, adhesives and difficulty in collection and sorting; renders conventional thermal-recycling techniques impractical.
This is where compostable films such as NatureFlex™ come to the fore. Standard NatureFlex™ films allow consumers to compost at home if they have a compost bin, or for local authorities to collect the films together with garden or food waste for industrial composting or anaerobic digestion, where such infrastructure exists. In those areas where incineration is the chosen method of residual waste management, NatureFlex™ is perfectly suitable and provides the same calorific value as wood. Whilst recycling, anaerobic digestion, composting and incineration create value from the waste, landfill has no value and so is not a suitable option for the future.

Method PET films NatureFlex™ Films Details
Anaerobic digestion(Biogas) X Most are OK NNFC NNFCC & OWS tests(wet & dry methods)
Home Composting X Most are OK OK Compost Home Protocol
Industrial Composting X OK EN13432, ASTM D 6400 & AS 4736 certifications
Incineration X OK Basic suitatility
Landfill(last resort option) ? ? nert
Film recycling X X impractical for flexible packaging constructions

NNFCC = National Non Foods Crops Centre
OWS = Organic Waste Systems

Packaging Performance
Protecting the wrapped product is the principal role of any packaging film. Reducing waste and enhancing shelf-life are two key ways in which packaging contributes to overall product sustainability. This is why the properties and performance of the film are so important in this area.
All NatureFlex™ films offer good gas barrier properties under standard conditions (see table below).

Film Oxygen transmission rate
(cc/m²/24hrs at 23C, 90% RH)
NatureFlex NVS 18
PLA film 780
NatureFlex NE 18
PET film 75
NatureFlex NK 5
BOPP Film 1800
NatureFlex NVR 11
Our Innovia’s speciality coating capabilities also allow us it to tailor the moisture barrier to the needs of the wrapped product (see graph below). Indeed NatureFlex™ NK is the only transparent bioplastic film to offer conventional plastic film barrier properties without the need for costly offline vacuum-coating technologies. Moisture Vapour Transmission Rate (transparent films, g/m²/24hrs, 38°C, 90%RH) In addition our customers need the films to run fast and efficiently on printing and packaging machinery. NatureFlex™ films are highly receptive to inks and adhesives and the majority of grades are suitable for flexo, gravure & offset printing-processes. NatureFlex™ films’ wide heat-seal range and inherent anti-static properties make them perform efficiently on packaging machines with little or no adjustments. They are suitable for use on horizontal, vertical, overwrap and twistwrap machines and for bagmaking applications. NatureFlex™ films can be laminated to themselves or to other bioplastic films to enhance the properties for certain applications.