Types of Film


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 Since the 1960s its use has been largely superseded by superior oil based alternatives. Being fully biodegradable it is now the subject of renewed interest, although the high cost and other technical compromises make it unsuitable for widespread adoption.

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 For packing cards its use has mainly superseded by the use of homopolymer film due to it’s greater clarity and gloss, modern variants of which have been treated to reduce static and improve slip. This film can be recycled where facilities exist.

High Clarity Polypropylene (OPP)

A 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. This film can be recycled where facilities exist.

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. Much research and development work is being undertaken in this area and new grades are slowly coming to market. At the time of writing these grades work well when the film is littered, this is ideal for areas in the world where this is a problem. Here in the UK whilst littering can be an issue, the fundamental problems are not addressed.

Polylactic Acid (PLA)

A biodegradable thermoplastic film made from renewable resources such as corn-starch 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 very few composting or recylcing facilities available 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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