Emmerson Packaging in Amherst, Nova Scotia, Canada earned an Honorable Mention for Innovations in Sustainability in the 2021 FTA Sustainability Excellence Awards for utilizing food waste through starch packaging.
Emmerson Packaging is a flexible packaging manufacturer that helps companies build their brands across North America. The company partnered with BiologiQ and utilized its NuPlastiQ product to reduce the amount of virgin PE in packaging by repurposing starch byproduct. BiologiQ makes plastic from renewable starches that combine with petroleum-based resins, resulting in a reduction of GHG emissions.
The film utilizing plant-based byproduct, in this case potato starch, is beneficial in taking renewable waste and displacing virgin materials made from natural resources.
“BiologiQ’s proprietary process converts starch byproduct into a form that can then be compounded with polyethylene to make pellets for the manufacturing blown extrusion line process,” comments Dawn MacDonald, Emmerson Packaging’s innovation, research and development manager. “They are very knowledgeable about extrusion lines and offer technical support. We believe that the best way to get to a more circular economy is through collaboration through the supply chain. There really is strength in numbers. By joining forces with suppliers, brands and various other organizations across the board, we can share knowledge which ultimately leads to sustainable results.
Emmerson Packaging says the benefit of this film approach is that it works on traditional equipment. The company’s trials showed there was no detrimental impact on performance or throughput on a vertical form film seal packing line. The company didn’t have to make any changes to its procedures, there was no capital expenditure and it found no adverse impacts on film performance, meaning brands do not have to compromise on their packaging to be more sustainable.
“As a flexible packaging manufacturer, we strive to stay current on emerging trends that will make the packaging we produce as sustainable and environmentally friendly as possible, and still maintain the form and function,” says MacDonald. “Using a byproduct of the food industry and incorporating it into the package is a fantastic solution that really helps work toward a circular economy.”
Emmerson Packaging explains that the main challenge with the project had to do with the processability of potato starch in a commercial PE blown extrusion line. “With COVID restrictions hitting mid-development, the technical support team from BiologiQ could not be present and support us in person. Like other companies, we adjusted our approach and worked virtually. With their support we successfully produced starch film,” remarks MacDonald.
The project is very close to being fully commercial, save for final internal trials that need to be completed, however MacDonald says the results have been positive and the company is excited about the opportunity.