In a world of increasingly tightening environmental regulation, manufacturers are seeking new and innovative ways to reduce the impact their products have on the planet. One such innovation is the use of water-soluble packaging. Unlike traditional plastic bags that can linger in oceans for years, these biodegradable and eco-friendly pouches dissolve within a matter of hours when exposed to hot water. These bags are ideal for storing and shipping garments, soft homewares and other items that are delicate or require careful handling.
Often, these bags are marketed as being a ‘solution to single-use plastics’, but this is a bold claim that requires further scrutiny. The truth is, that they are not a sustainable solution to single-use plastics, as most of the available life-cycle assessment (LCA) figures show that PVA polybags have a significantly higher carbon footprint than Low-Density Polyethylene, which traditional plastic bags are typically made from.
These PVA-based pouches are also being sold as a ‘marine-safe’ solution, but it is difficult to know what this means when the LCA figures are so confusing. It is important to understand that PVA polybags do not necessarily dissolve or biodegrade in marine environments, and they may even have a negative impact on marine life through the formation of fragmented PVA.
One of the most common uses of these soluble plastic bags is for infection control purposes, particularly in hospitals and nursing homes. By containing soiled laundry, this method helps to prevent the spread of bacteria. The soiled laundry is then removed from the water-soluble bag, and flushed down a drain or directly into a sewer system.
The film used to manufacture these soluble bags is typically produced from a combination of two different plastic films. The cold-water soluble portion of the film dissolves in cold water, while the hot-water soluble portion of the film dissolves at a temperature above 70 C.
The composite water-soluble film is formed into bags by employing essentially conventional bag forming techniques. It is cut into appropriate lengths to form bags, and the longitudinal ends of the bags are sealed by either an adhesive or heat sealing step.
These bags can be manufactured with a wide range of features, including zip closures, hang holes, gussets, print windows and tear notches. In addition, they can be laminated to an abrasion-resistant paper or vinyl for added protection and longevity. The bags are available in a variety of stock sizes, and can be custom-made to fit specific product needs. Manufacturing capabilities include coating, printing, flexography, die cutting and hot stamping. water soluble bag manufacturers