Water soluble bag manufacturers are making a big splash in the market, especially for their use in hospital laundry bags. They are hygienic and environmentally-friendly solutions to reduce contact between staff and dirty or contaminated clothing. These bags contain the dirty linen and other laundry materials so that they are safely contained until it is ready to be washed, disinfected and dried. This eliminates the spread of bacteria from contaminated clothes to other areas. They are also a good solution to minimize the amount of contact between humans and soiled laundry materials such as blood borne pathogens, MRSA or pests like bed bugs.
These bags are made from PVA or Polyvinyl Alcohol, which is a synthetic organic polymer with many advantages over other plastics such as Polyethylene and Polypropylene. The main reason is that it can be made to dissolve in cold water without the need for a higher temperature. This makes it ideal for medical use where it is important to avoid any contamination of the washing machine and other machinery. The material is also a natural alternative to plastic, as it is biodegradable and non-toxic in the environment.
It is important to note that although these bags are advertised as being a sustainable alternative to single-use plastics, they still require a waste disposal method. Most of the suggested end-of-life pathways for these bags involve them being destroyed, either by dissolution in water or industrial composting. This would mean that they need to be replaced by new bags once they reach the end of their useful life.
One of the major producers of PVA for these bags, Aquapak, addresses this issue in a white paper publicly available on their website. They clearly state that their PVA does not meet the criteria for marine degradability, and therefore they cannot claim that their products are a sustainable alternative to single-use plastics.
The invention relates to a composite uniplanar water soluble film comprising a strip of a cold water soluble plastic film bonded at its edge to a strip of a hot water soluble plastic film. The combination is formed by folding the cold water soluble strips 2 over on top of and around the additional hot water soluble strip 3 and adhesively bonding them together to form a bag for holding soiled laundry. The bags are then filled with the soiled laundry material and placed in a washing machine where the cold water soluble portion of the film dissolves in cold water and the hot water soluble portion subsequently dissolves by elevation of temperature in the washing cycle to flush away the contents of the bag into the wash tub. The resulting wash water containing the dissolved film is then flushed to a sewage disposal system. This type of washing and sanitation system is particularly suitable for hospitals and nursing homes where the disposal of soiled medical instruments, articles, patient bed sheets, garments and linens is necessary. It is particularly desirable to be able to contain these items in disposable bags which can then be washed and disinfected without any risk of contamination or infection to personnel handling the laundry.