Invercote Bio is a paperboard that is coated with a bio-plastic polymer made from renewable resources. Both the paperboard and the bio-plastic polymer are certified as biodegradable. The final converted product can therefore also be certified by the brand owner after testing the whole product with inks and glue etc. The certification shows the product can be composted in industrial composting facilities within a certain time and with a given quality level.
“Unlike competitor products, the renewable parts of Invercote Bio are sourced from non-genetically modified plants, which speaks volumes for our sustainability credentials,” says Jonas Adler, business development manager at Strömsbruk, where Iggesund manufactures its products with additional benefits and functions.
Invercote Bio is particularly suited to the food industry, as food and packaging materials do not need to be separated prior to composting. Industrial composting takes 12 weeks and, unlike incineration, returns valuable nutrients such as phosphor to the ground.
Paperboard is basically made of wood, so it has always been biodegradable, Adler says. Nevertheless, as of January 2010, Iggesund can supply paperboard from the Invercote range that is certified in accordance with the European standard EN 13432. This is the harmonised European standard to which packaging products can provide proof of their compostability.
“For the food and food service industry, Invercote Bio packaging could be a real game changer, as companies will no longer need to sort their waste,” says Adler.
“Paperboard coated with bio-plastic has a fantastic future because it fits into all the waste scenarios prescribed in the EU’s packaging directive, be they recycling, energy recovery [incineration], composting or anaerobic treatment.”
More traditional packaging is coated with polyethylene, which is also waterproof and offers sealing properties but is not biodegradable. Still, when using paperboard as a carrier for the plastic, the amount of plastic used can be reduced to about a fifth of what would have been required for an equivalent plastic container.
Adler cites some examples to explain Invercote Bio’s possible advantages over other paperboards covered with polyethylene.
“Take a food company filling trays with food,” he says. “There is a disturbance in the production line and a whole batch has to be thrown away, sorted by type of waste – plastics, paperboard and food. This requires manpower, storage space and three separate transports from the factory.”
“The same goes for a supermarket chain that has to throw out packaged foods that have expired, or a catering firm at a big fair, or a school or hospital. If all the waste is the same, then you don’t have to sort it. The handling costs can be reduced by choosing the right packaging materials to begin with.”
Invercote Bio was commercially launched in January 2009 and is currently being used by cup and tray customers.