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Supplements switching to PLA bottles

Highland Laboratories ( , a Mt. Angel, OR, private-label and contract manufacturer of nutrition supplements, has begun to replace its more than 200 opaque and amber PET bottles used for dietary supplements with similar containers made of polylactic acid (PLA) from NatureWorks LLC ( PLA is a bioplastic derived from corn.

“It makes sense for us, providing organic and wholesome nutrition, including dietary supplements, to complete the cycle with earth-friendly packaging,” says Candy Scott, Highland Laboratories CEO. About 40 products are now packaged in the opaque white 250-cc size PLA bottles, with the 200-cc size next. Amber bottles will follow in 2007, Scott says.

The white pigmentation provides UV protection and is such a small percent of the composition that it does not affect the environmental objective, according to blow molder Alpha Packaging ( The bottles are supplied through distributor TricorBraun (

The PLA is one-third more expensive than PET, Scott says, but Highland is absorbing the added costs, because “we feel that this is an important thing for the environment. Once consumers are aware of this packaging option, they'll love it.”

Highland is promoting its eco-friendly packaging by adding a pressure-sensitive promotional label to the top of the closures. The label is printed with the words “corn based, earth friendly.” Highland is testing several different brands and variations of labels made of recycled paper, which the company has used for promotional materials and catalogs for years. The change from virgin paper labels should come shortly, Scott notes. Highland is also looking into PLA-based closures.

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