Home > Resource Center > What is Cello?

Cellophane Bags vs. Cello Bags vs. Biodegradable Cellophane Bags

Confused about the difference is between Cellophane Bags & Cello Bags & Biodegradable Bags?  Let's try to demystify the differences by explaining a brief history of the "cello" bag.

The History of "Cello-Style" Bags

Cellophane is one of the oldest, clear packaging materials used to pack candy, nuts, baked goods & more. It was first marketed as a packaging material in the US in 1924, and was the predominant film until the 1960s. In the 1960s, a new breed of "cellophane-style" film, called Polypropylene (PP), gained popularity because of its low cost to manufacture, its abundance & its superior barrier properties. At this point, cello bags & cellophane bags came to reference both true cellophane (made of wood) & BOPP (bi-axially oriented polypropylene).

True cellophane is making a comeback today due to green awareness & eco-friendly markets. It is 100% biodegradable & is seen by many as a more earth-friendly packaging material than BOPP. Cellophane has an average water vapor rating and an excellent machinability & sealability.

How is True Cellophane Made?
Unlike man-made plastic polymers, which are largely derived from petroleum, cellulose is a natural polymer made from cellulose, a component of plants & trees. (CelloBags.com cellulose comes from specially managed, sustainable tree farms.) It is made from digested wood & cotton pulp that undergoes a series of chemical baths that remove impurities & break the long, fiberous chains in the raw materials. While cellulose is regenerated as a clear, shiny film with plasticizing chemicals added for flexibility, it is primarily composed of crystalline cellulose molecules. This means it can biodegrade with the assistance of micro-organisms in the soil, just as leaves and plants do.

Biodegradable & Compostable?

Tests have shown that, when buried or composted, un-coated cellulose film typically breaks down in an average of 28 to 60 days. Coated cellulose breakdown ranges from 80 to 120 days. In lake water, the average bio-degradation for un-coated is 10 days and 30 days for coated. Unlike true cellulose, BOPP film is not biodegradable, but rather, it is recyclable. BOPP remains inert when discarded, and it does not leach any toxins into the soil or water table. For a direct comparison on plastic vs. paper sustainability, click here to open our Sustainability page.

CelloBags.Com Products

While the majority of CelloBags.com products (& Prism Pak, Inc, our parent company) are plastic, we have expanded our "cello bag" offering to include a new category of Biodegradable Bags. Our Clear Cello Bags and Printed Cello Bags are made of BOPP material. As is industry practice, we co-mingle our phrases of "cello bags" and "cellophane bags" to reference the style of clear, shiny film, rather than the materials used. We will always call out Biodegradable on products that meet the criteria for biodegradability.

Comparison chart of BOPP and cellophane bag properties

Properties BOPP Cello Bags Cellophane Bags
Oxygen Barrier Excellent Excellent
Moisture Barrier Excellent Moderate
Aroma Barrier Excellent Excellent
Oil/Grease Resistance High High
FDA-Approved Yes Yes
Clarity High Moderate
Strength High High
Heat-Sealable Yes Yes
Compostable No Yes
Recyclable Yes No

Reference chart for cello bag Items that we sell

Size Biodegradable Item # BOPP Item #
3"w x 5.5"h flat 1mil BCF2 PN
3.75"w x 6.5"h flat 1mil BCF4 CF
4.75"w x 6.75"h flat 1mil BCF5 CF0
5.75"w x 7.75"h flat 1mil BCF6 CF1
6.75"w x 9"h flat 1mil BCF7 CF2
4"w x 2.75"d x 10.75"h 1mil BCS5 CS3

Still have questions? We would love to hear from you & help sort them out.  Email us at [email protected].