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Plastic Packaging Alternatives + More Film Price Increases

Plastic Packaging Alternatives + More Film Price Increases


Plastic Packaging Alternatives

It was King Canute who chose to convince his courtiers he was not omnipotent by demonstrating that even he could not prevent the tide from coming in.

I think I know how he felt! Anyone who decides to take a stand in favour of plastic packaging is bound to be swept away in a Tsunami of adverse publicity spewing from the popular press in general. The BBC in particular and now the government’s new “environmental strategy”.

However if we filter out as much as we can of this “noise” and look at the facts there are some interesting points to be made as follows;

  1. National Flexible, like many of our competitors can supply alternative packaging films which are compostable and/or bio degradable which would never pollute the earth’s oceans nor litter the landscape for more than the few months it takes for them to “disappear” as their constituent materials deteriorate.
  2. The major reasons these materials are not more widely used are many and varied, but particularly these films cannot replicate the inherent qualities of food preservation and protection of the more conventional oil based alternatives.

In particular whilst compostable films can provide good gas and aroma barriers they give very limited moisture protection. Indeed one of these strengths is “breathability”. Similarly the starch based bio degradable films currently marketed can provide good aroma and gas barrier but again have very poor moisture barrier in both materials the gas barrier can be improved by PVDC coating, but this is hardly an ideal solution for so called “environmental films” particularly as in both cases the poor sealing qualities makes gas flushing impractical.

  1. Whilst both bio degradable and compostable films have their proponents there are other disadvantages compared to oil based films, not only are the yields 50%-60% lower, the costs can be up to 300% higher

We recently costed a compostable replacement for a customer spending £80k per annum of film, the yield and cost differential meant an increase in their total film cost to £300k.

Finally in the case of PLA the countries where it is mostly grown in the southern hemisphere are already desperately short of land and water for growing food crops. Growing crops for plastic replacement simply exacerbates these shortages

(I am writing these notes in Cape Town! Unless there is rain shortly the water supply will be switched off, the proposal to use these precious resources to grow crops or make paper and board simply to replace plastic materials which are plentiful seems ludicrous).

Why not just dispose of the plastic waste properly?


We welcome the opportunity to work with those companies who wish to reduce their plastic packaging consumption. We provide free packaging audits which review current films being used to recommend reductions or new materials wherever practical.


More Film Price Increases

Film polymer suppliers increased their prices in January for the third successive month. This is most unusual as the final ¼ of most years is a time of falling prices with the normal pattern being increases around March as volume demand increases.

The current reason being given for these ongoing increases in polymer prices is the increased cost of oil. If this is the case we should see polymer prices fall in the second ½ of the year when an oil glut is forecast due to increased “fracking” rates in America.

However, experience teaches us that any fall never seems to happen at the same rate as the price increases. Nevertheless, now is not a good time to be short on stock as there are no indications of a short term price decrease and volume of film demand will undoubtedly increase in March- June.

I will take this belated opportunity to wish everyone a healthy and successful 2018 and as ever welcome your views on any of the items raised. To those who have not seen our new website I also recommend having a look around.


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