Types of Film

Cellophane

Cellophane is a transparent film made of regenerated cellulose, usually from wood. Its low permeability to air, oils, greases and bacteria makes it useful for food packaging. Since the 1960s its use has been largely superceded by superior oil based alternative’s, although being fully biodegradable it is now the subject of renewed interest.

Co-extruded Polypropylene (Co-ex OPP)

Polypropylene film coated with a thin film of OPP with additives making it suitable for surface sealing. This coating also reduces static and gives good slip, making packing easier and quicker. For packing cards its use has mainly superceded by the use of homopolymer film due to it’s greater clarity and gloss, modern variants of which have been treated to reduce static and improve slip.

High Clarity Polypropylene

Bi-orientated polypropylene usually referred to as BOPP or OPP, an extremely clear film with excellent gloss making it ideal for presentation packaging. Most greeting cards are now packed in this film. Recent environmental concerns have led to an interest in biodegradable and compostable alternatives, however the environmental benefits of these alternative films are far from proven, and they are currently much more expensive.

Biodegradable Polypropylene

This is regular OPP (co-ex or homopolymer) which contains a salt based additive to make it degradable and eventually biodegradable. The environmental benefit of this film has been called into question by government funded research carried out by Loughborough University. The main problem being that the film will not necessarily biodegrade when placed in landfill due to the absence of oxygen. The full report and summary may be viewed at Defra
PLA (Polylactic Acid)

A biodegradable thermoplastic film made from renewable resources such as cornstartch or sugarcane. It also meets international standards for compostablility. The popularity of this film has been hampered by it’s high price. Also it is only certified compostable for use in an industrial composting process at 58C. And at the time of writing there are no available composting or recyling facilities in the UK, meaning the film will inevitably end up in landfill where the lack of oxygen hampers it’s ability to biodegrade.

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