Bio-based materials grow market share

By Paul Gander

- Last updated on GMT

Coca-Cola has introduced the 100% bio-based PlantBottle
Coca-Cola has introduced the 100% bio-based PlantBottle

Related tags: Biodegradation

Packaging continues to dominate end uses for bioplastics – snapping up around 70% of 2014 production – but food packaging is likely to stay focused on biodegradable options rather than the durable alternatives that are growing in other industries, sector organisation European Bioplastics (EuBP) has claimed.

The Berlin-based organisation said 60% of global bio-based production in 2014 was in the area of durable plastics. The highest growth has been in ‘drop-in’ biopolymers, which use renewable resources as sustainable feedstock for common polymers such as polyethylene (PE) and polyethylene terephthalate (PET). That 60% share of production is expected to rise to 80% by 2019, said EuBP.

‘Fastest growing’

“Bio-based PET is developing the fastest, with most of the volume going into bottles,”​ said deputy md Kristy-Barbara Lange. “Coca-Cola, for instance, presented the 100%-bio-based PlantBottle a few months ago.”​ Even though this version is not yet on the market, the concept has been proven.

“In the food packaging sector especially,​ [materials which are] bio-based and biodegradable – or compostable – will play an important role,”​ said Lange. “These materials are gaining immensely because they provide the opportunity to facilitate a separate bio-waste collection by being compostable together with the rotten food.”

In some cases, said EuBP, a move to bio-plastics is driven by the desire to reduce carbon footprint. It may also be in tune with a product’s wider environmental and social sustainability profile.

Cost benefits

There can be cost benefits, too, as with the example of EuBP member DuPont switching to bio-based production of its Sorona polyamide.

Some more porous biodegradable materials may help to prolong the shelf-life of fresh produce and, where a better barrier is required, more sophisticated (but still compostable) multi-layer structures are available.

Earlier this year, UK businesses in this particular area set up the Bio-based and Biodegradable Industries Association (BBIA), chaired by Andy Sweetman of Innovia Films.

Related topics: Packaging materials

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