The perks of plastic are that it's low-weight, low-volume, and water-resistant, with a low unit cost. But plastic takes a serious hit when it comes to recovery, because most of it ends up in landfills. That's where alternative plastics come in, but they can be tricky. Many still contain plastic and can only be composted in the high-heat environment of an industrial facility.
That's why we're excited about a new addition to Lumi Materials: PHA film. PHA (polyhydroxyalkanoate) is a compostable plastic that’s entirely bio-based, derived from bacterial fermentation. Unlike PLA, PHA does not contain any fossil fuel derivatives, making it renewable and plastic-free. It's even home compostable, and will break down in a few months.
On Lumi, PHA is available as an alternative option for plastic film products including compostable poly mailers and inner bags. It offers the benefits of poly — water resistance, low weight, and low volume — but with a more sustainable end-of-life. The look and feel is comparable to the poly you're used to — smooth and malleable with a little stretch. It's shelf stable, as it's resistant to UV rays, heat, and moisture.
PHA can not be recycled, and composting is the ideal end-of-life phase. While municipal composting is not yet widely available, the reality is that even in a landfill, these bags will break down much faster than traditional plastic (which takes decades to degrade into microplastics). Brands looking to use PHA may want to consider adequate messaging for proper disposal, or a takeback program to better ensure best-case disposal by composting in bulk with an industrial facility.
Right now, there is one supplier offering PHA film on Lumi — BIOLO. BIOLO is one of the only PHA film suppliers in the US and the first PHA supplier on Lumi. They extrude, convert, manufacture, and print bags made with Danimer Scientific's polyhydroxyalkanoate PHA based resin, Nodax® which is derived from canola plants. Their PHA bags are certified by TUV OK Compost for home composting, up to 2mil. Cover photo via BIOLO.