Duro Bag Manufacturing Co. of Ludlow, Ky., plans to add compostable plastic bags for lawn and garden use to its paper and plastic bag product lines. Duro will distribute and possibly make 30-gallon bags based on EcoPla polymer developed by Cargill Inc. of Minneapolis. EcoPla is a polylactic acid Cargill makes from corn in Blair, Neb.
Cargill and Duro have begun test marketing compostable bags in Burnsville, Minn., and at the University of Nebraska. The two companies plan a major commercial launch early next year before spring gardening season begins.
Cargill is qualifying Duro and other film extruders to make the compostable bag and has not decided which firms will produce it, according to Steven Mojo, Cargill market development consultant. Duro has a nonexclusive distribution pact for EcoPla bags.
Mojo said EcoPla bags are made of three-layer blown film. An EcoPla layer is sandwiched between layers of a commercially available, biodegradable, aliphatic polyester resin. Mojo would not disclose a supplier of the polyester resin but said the material is not like aromatic polyesters such as PET. EcoPla is a naturally derived aliphatic polyester.
Dave Davis, Duro vice president of marketing, said his firm wants to make the EcoPla bags at its Richwood, Ky., plant, where it does all its film extrusion and produces and prints plastic merchandise and T-shirt bags. EcoPla has potential for food-waste liners and other applications, he said in a telephone interview.
Cargill claims EcoPla bags can replace paper for compost collection. EcoPla biodegrades with leaves, grass and other materials collected in yard waste.
Davis did not provide plastic bag sales figures, but said the private firm's total sales are $300 million to $350 million. It has five paper bag plants and employs more than 1,400. It began producing plastic bags in 1986.
Cargill established its EcoPla business unit in 1989 to develop a polylactic acid, biodegradable polymer. Mojo said Cargill has several other EcoPla demonstration programs under way, including its use in silage twine and kitchen liners in Europe.