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Sustainable Packaging Guide - Compostable Cellophane

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Biodegradable and compostable films (bioplastics/biofilms) may seem like new inventions, but in fact some have been around for longer than you might think!

Cellophane Food PackagingInvented by Swiss chemist Jacques E. Brandenberger in the 1900’s, cellophane was the very first see-through packaging. It was one of the first plastics, and biodegradable! In 1912, Whitman’s candy company popularized the material in the United States by using it to wrap candy.

Before cellophane, self-service retail was not common. Cellophane played a crucial role in developing the self-service model of retail, particularly in the sale of products such as fresh meat and produce. Manufacturers and retailers were able to manipulate the appearance of products by controlling oxygen and moisture levels. Customers were able to see the quality of pre-packaged fresh foods before purchase.

How Cellophane Changed the Way we Shop for Food


What is Cellophane Made From?

Cellophane is plant-based. The “cello” in cellophane stands for cellulose – the structural component of plants. Cellulose film can be made from a variety of natural sources, including wood, cotton, hemp, and corn.

At Elevate Packaging, our compostable cellophane bags are made with biofilms derived from FSC-certified wood pulp. This ensures that not only are the bags themselves compostable, but they are also produced from sustainably sourced materials.

Be aware! In the U.S. cellophane is now a genericized term and can be used to refer to other films such as PVC and polypropylene. Neither of these plastics are biodegradable!


Is Cellophane Biodegradable?

Yes, true cellophane is biodegradable.

It is important to be aware of any extra ingredients or coatings that can be added to cellophane, such as polyethylene. These additives can improve durability, water resistance, and allow the cellophane to be heat-sealed, however in many cases they are not biodegradable.


Granola packaged in cellophane bag

Can Cellophane be Composted?

The short answer: Sometimes.

The long answer: True cellophane is both biodegradable and compostable. The problem can lie in what other additives and coatings are added to cellophane in order to create the end product.

Some additives can be petroleum-based plastic. Other additives may be biodegradable, but not compostable!

Compostable means that a material can be processed into compost or humus. Biodegradable only means that a substance can be biologically broken down. Packaging listed as biodegradable may not be compostable (but all compostable packaging is biodegradable!)

Biodegradable products may not be good for the environment - it’s important to know the difference.


Certified Compostable Cellophane Bags

We’re passionate about sustainability. It’s important to be clear about different sustainability terms and their meanings, which is why we will only refer to our products as compostable.  Our cellophane bags are made entirely from certified compostable films.


Is Cellophane Better Than Plastic?

As the first see-through packaging, cellophane revolutionized shopping and packaging.

By the 1960s cellophane was mostly replaced by petroleum-based plastics such as polypropylene. These plastics were cheaper to produce and more durable, but have unfortunately resulted in an incredible amount of plastic waste.

Cellophane has had a resurgence of popularity in recent years. Thanks to the hard work of environmental advocates, manufacturers and consumers have begun to understand the dangers of petroleum-based single-use plastics. Cellophane has some properties similar to plastic, making it a more attractive option for brands wanting to go plastic-free.

In terms of disposal cellophane is certainly better than plastic, however it is not suitable for all applications. Cellophane cannot be recycled, and it isn’t 100% waterproof. For packaging to be truly eco-friendly, it does need to take the type of product, intended use, and end-of-life into account. Packaging a product incorrectly can cause damage and extra waste.

Cookies in cellophane bag

As with all packaging products (yes, even petroleum-based plastics) it’s important to test your packaging, to make sure it works as expected with your product and intended use.


Eco-Friendly Clear Bags

Cellophane bags are a great choice for packaging food products, loose tea, apparel, cosmetics, and gifts. Transparent cellophane allows business to display their product at its best, and lets customers see the product before they buy!

Cellophane bags are relatively inexpensive, making them a great choice for smaller businesses who wish to remain environmentally friendly.


Compostable Cellophane Bags

Our compostable cellophane bags are made from compostable biofilm. The wood cellulose fibers used to produce these bags are a renewable raw material, sourced using sustainable forestry principles as outlined by the FSC. They’re the best eco-friendly alternative to corn-based PLA.

Our compostable cellophane bags meet FDA requirements for direct food contact, they are also vegan and non-GMO!

The films used to produce our bags are 97 per cent renewable content (ASTM D6866 Carbon Testing) and meet the European EN 13432 and American ASTM D6400 composting norms for CA and other states. Compostability certification ensures that the products will completely degrade within 90 days in a composting facility. In doing so, they will not leave behind any harmful or toxic residues.

We originally introduced cellophane bags to our product line in order to allow customers to easily purchase both sustainable bags and labels in one location. We’re proud to say that they’ve been a great hit!

Available in a wide variety of sizes, and with  custom bags available, we’re sure you’ll be able to find the perfect compostable bags and labels for your brand.

Shop Compostable Cellophane Bags 

Shop Compostable Labels