Polyvinyl alcohol (PVOH, PVA, or PVAl) is a synthetic polymer which is both colourless, odourless and water-soluble. It was initially discovered in the early 1920's and since has been used in numerous applications from the lamination of safety glass to the packaging of laundry detergents. It is usually supplied as a powder, granules, or pellets, or sometimes as a solution in water.
PVOH is safe and environmentally friendly. Beyond the popular laundry and detergent packets, it is used in many household, medical, personal care and industrial applications, including food packaging, textile yarns, paper products, unit- dose pharmaceuticals, water treatment chemicals, “artificial tears” used to treat dry eyes, contact lens lubricants, transfer printing, agrochemicals, embroidery and dust abatement.
Food-grade versions of the film are used to deliver pre-measured quantities of rice, pasta, cocoa seasoning and nutritional supplements. For example, in the US market, the material is being used to create packets that contain doses of whey protein powder, favoured by fitness enthusiasts for building lean muscle mass. The pre-measured packets make it easier and more convenient to simply drop the protein into a shaker bottle with water or milk, mix and drink. This ensures the correct amount of protein is used with no waste or mess.
Other grades of PVOH film are used in manufacturing processes, such as mould release film in the production of solid surface countertops and reinforced composites