Metallized pouches protect the trichome, metallic ink does not.
Metallized plastic film has been used in a variety of applications and industries since its invention. From food packaging to space exploration to healthcare and technology sectors, metallized films are highly versatile, resilient, and useful. They protect food from oxygen, light, and gas which extends shelf life; they reflect communication signals, which allowed NASA to develop satellite technology; they ensure sterility and security of medicines and medical devices; they protect electronic equipment from heat buildup and ultraviolet radiation; they are even used for survival equipment, like emergency blankets. But there is confusion out there, especially in the cannabis industry, over the difference between metallized plastic films and metallic plastic films. We are here to help sort these two out, so you can make the right purchase for your cannabusiness.
METALLIZED vs METALLIC: WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?
The suffix “ize” (as in Metallize) means, “to render, or make; to convert into, or give a specified character or form to.” So, if a product has been metallized, it will have been converted into a material that has all the properties of the metal used, like barrier properties, in addition to its original properties.
When flexible plastic packaging is produced with a solid layer of metal it is metallized.
Metallized packaging provides extra barrier properties against light, oxygen, and gas due to its solid-sheet metal content.
HISTORY OF METALLIZED FILMS
Plastic films were first metallized in the 1930’s and used as decorative tinsel, like the kind you might see on Christmas trees. These metallized films replaced the more expensive and traditional tinsels made of silver, making the decorations more accessible to a wider range of people.
World War II changed many things, including the number of people per household that were in the work place. More people were out of the home and on the job, and this trend has continued practically unabated ever since, with spikes during cultural revolutions like those in the 60’s and 70’s. Initially desired simply for visual appeal in the 1960’s, since 1975 metallized plastic films have transitioned from enticing packaging to an important barrier material and microwave-heatable susceptor.
Metallized films, therefore, solved the problem of a growing need for snack foods and ready-to-eat meals in a world that was quickly becoming busier and busier, with less time for food preparation and more demand for convenience.
The suffix “ic” (as in Metallic) means, “having some characteristics of; in the style of.” So, if a product is metallic it will have characteristics of metal – it will look like metal, but it will not have the same barrier properties.
When flexible plastic packaging is printed with shiny ink it is metallic.
Metallic packaging provides a decorative feel, but due to its particulate content it has far fewer of the barrier properties that a solid sheet of metal provides.
METALLIC INK: HOW IS IT MADE?
Metallic inks contain microscopic pieces of metal (particulates), pulverized material that makes the pigment, and some sort of liquid in which the two can mix. Metallic inks are opaque, so you cannot see through them, but they are subject to a process called “leafing,” where the metal particles float to the surface of the ink and provide shine. This effect leaves dried metallic inks vulnerable to rub-off, which means they often need a protective coating to keep them from losing consistency in coverage and ending up with transparent holes. These coatings can cause adhesion problems if they don’t react well with the metallic ink. They can also reduce the metallic effect, rendering the color more grey than shiny silver.
So, metallized and metallic are clearly two different things when it comes to packaging materials. Now let’s clear up one more thing.
METALLIZED vs MYLAR: WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?
On top of the confusion over the difference between metallized plastic film and metallic plastic film, people often also conflate the two terms metallized and Mylar to mean the same thing. But they do not mean the same thing.
Mylar isn’t sliver. It’s a crystal clear, ultra-thin plastic film made of biaxially oriented polyethylene terephthalate (BoPET). It was developed in the 1950’s by DuPont, Hoechst, and Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI) and used for its desirable qualities in commercial applications.
Mylar can be metallized by adding an ultra-thin layer of aluminum to the clear plastic film. This results in metalized Mylar, which is silver and provides additional barrier properties. You might be familiar with those shiny, helium-filled birthday balloons – yes? That’s what metallized Mylar looks like, but those balloons are not necessarily made from trademarked Mylar. One legitimate example of metallized Mylar in use is NASA’s Echo II balloon. Created in 1964, the passive satellite was made from Mylar layered with aluminum foil and could be seen with the naked eye as it orbited the planet.
If you are looking for Mylar that has been metallized, you can certainly find it. DuPont Teijin Films produces it and wholesalers sell it. But if you do not require the trademarked item, you can purchase other clear, ultra-thin plastic films from any number of manufacturers. And just like Mylar, other clear plastic films can be metallized. Think of it this way: saying “metallized plastic film” is like saying “cotton swab,” whereas saying “metallized Mylar” is like saying “Q-Tip.” They both perform similar functions, but one is a general term and the other is a trademarked product.
It’s important to know what you’re using to store your cannabis. Metallized plastic films provide superior barrier properties when compared with metallic plastic films; and metallized Mylar is a very specific product. So, be sure to ask and get a straight answer from your distributor before you buy.
OPTIONS FOR RECYCLING METALLIZED PLASTIC FILM
Options are currently limited, if at all available in a truly accessible way. But industry leaders are tackling that problem. One example is EREMA Plastic Recycling Systems. Their patented extruder system called INTAREMA TVEplus is capable of processing “heavily printed PE and PP films, washed PE film flakes, PE films with paper contamination, and BOPP metallized films.” There is also a video available on YouTube showing a Polystar machine that is designed to recycle metallized BoPP film. The video directs interested buyers to contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
In the meantime, as the industry responds, we consumers can do our part to mitigate the waste created by packaging materials by reducing the amounts we purchase and re-purposing what we’ve used.
WAYS TO REPURPOSE METALLIZED PLASTIC FILM
- Store your sensitive materials and valuables in metallized pouches during outdoor activities. As long as these pouches have a zipper to remain closed, they will protect your phone, camera, food, and other items from the sun, water, and inclement weather while you’re rafting, hiking, or playing in the snow.
- Make a dry-erase board. Our metallized Rogue Pouches are easy to write on with permanent markers, and all you need is rubbing alcohol to clear your slate. Used 1lb bags with their larger surface area can be disassembled and then attached to a hard surface (like a piece of plywood) and used as a chore chart, brain map, or other noteworthy apparatus in your home or office.
- Weave a basket, create decorative trinkets, even make your own disco ball. The high shine of metallized plastic film makes it perfect for fun craft projects and the options are as limitless as your imagination.
- Rest easy by creating your own dark room. Cover bedroom windows to block sunlight in seasons and regions where the sun remains in the sky past bedtime.
- Don’t waste a single photon! Reflect light in your grow room by lining the walls with repurposed metallized pouches. Light from all angles can help the leaves of your plants absorb more of that bright, yummy food. This may even increase your yield.