Cellophane was invented by Swiss chemist Jacques E. Brandenberger while he was employed at the Blanchisserie et Teinturerie de Thaon. In 1900, inspired by seeing a wine spill on a restaurant tablecloth, he decided to create a fabric that could repel liquids rather than absorb them. His first step was to spray a waterproof coating on the fabric, and he chose to treat it with viscose. The resulting coated fabric was too stiff, but the clear film separated easily from the reinforcing fabric, and he abandoned his original idea when the possibilities of the new material became apparent.
Samuel Courtauld’s British viscose technology textile company had managed to diversify in 1930 with the production of a viscose film, which they called “Viscacelle”. However, competition with cellophane was an obstacle to their sales, and in 1935 Courtauld founded British Cellophane jointly with the Cellophane Company and its French parent company CTA. Between 1935 and 1937 they built their main production plant in Bridgwater, Somerset, England, which employed 3000 workers.
Cellophane paper is plastic
Paper recycling is one of the most important recycling processes in existence. It avoids the felling of many trees and also avoids the use of toxic bleaches such as chlorine, which, if not properly managed, ends up being released into the environment. However, although recycling paper and cardboard is such an important task, it is also necessary to remember that not all types of paper can be recycled. In fact, some of them will have to be discarded and will end up in an incinerator once they have been used, and nothing can be done about it. If you want to know what kind of paper can and cannot be recycled, keep reading Green Ecology and we will tell you about it.
In fact, when we talk about recycling paper, we are referring to cellulose. That is, the main material that makes up paper and is extracted from the wood of trees. However, for this cellulose to be recycled, it must be in an acceptable condition. This means that if it is paper or cardboard that has undergone certain chemical treatments, or has simply been stained with dirt that cannot be removed, the paper in question is unusable for recycling.
Cellophane is biodegradable
Although many, if not all, of these plant-based plastics are biodegradable, the use of these bioplastics nevertheless presents a number of serious problems that we must take into consideration:
1. The fact that these plastics use a vegetable base does not mean that they do not also contain additives whose impact on the environment is worrying, especially when they tend to end up directly in the soil or water as they biodegrade.
2. Recycling conventional plastic is already very complicated. For these bioplastics to be properly treated, it would be necessary to set up a specific collection and treatment network for them.
In short, the problem is not whether the plastic base is of vegetable origin or comes from petroleum because, as we have seen, biodegradable or oxo-degradable plastics create more problems than they solve.
If you would like more information on this subject, we recommend reading the Ecologists in Action report, “Unhook from plastic”, which deals with this problem in a very clear and in-depth way.
Types of cellophane paper
In order for the paper to be recycled, the cellophane must be removed from the “window” by hand. This is a time-consuming job if it has to be done on a large number of envelopes! If you manually remove the cellophane from the envelope at home, you can separate the paper from the recyclables.
Needless to say, it is highly advisable to contact the different service companies that send you documentation with these envelopes, and ask them about the possibility of adhering to electronic or digital alternatives!