Page 44 - Packaging News Magazine Jan-Feb 2019
P. 44

Doing what comes naturally
‘Blue Planet’ has created a groundswell of interest in bio alternatives to oil-based plastic packaging, reports Des King, upon attending the European Bioplastics (EuBP) association’s annual conference in Berlin on behalf of PKN.
chain towards a more sustainable option can only bode well for the sector’s future prospects, says Euro- pean Bioplastics (EuBP) MD Hasso von Pogrell, speaking at the associa- tion’s annual conference in Berlin (4 – 5 December 2018), attended by 420 delegates from more than 253 companies and 40 different countries.
“The global market for bioplastics is predicted to grow by roughly 25 per cent over the next five years. This trend is possible thanks to the increasing demand for sustainable products by both consumers and brands alike, stronger policy sup- port for the bio-economy, and the continuous efforts of the bioplastics industry to develop innovative materials with improved properties and new functionalities.”
Biobased PE (polyethylene) and biobased PET (polyethylene tere- phthalate), as well as bio-based PA (polyamides), currently make up for around 50 per cent (1m tonnes) of the global bioplastics production capacities. The production of bio- based PE is predicted to continue to grow as new capacities come on line in Europe in the next few years.
The newly developed bio-based PP (polypropylene) is targeting a 1.4 per cent market share by 2023; around 30,000 tonnes. Developed
ALTHOUGH biobased polymers still only represent barely one per cent of the total volume of
335m tonnes of plastics in circulation, there is a growing sense of confidence amongst developers of both organi- cally derived drop-in alternatives and compostables alike that the transition from being a topic of patronising interest to serious contention is an increasingly discernible prospect. While the obstacles to the sector acquiring a largermarketsharestillstand–the ready availability of a fossil-feed- stock and existing investment in its conversion; the adverse price differential through lack of scale; and an understandable resistance to changing a well-proven process – their inviolability and the role of plastic in supporting our consumer lifestyle has been undermined following the extreme public reac-
tion to the ‘Blue Planet’ TV series. A year on from transmission, calls for prohibition and ‘plastic- free’ supermarket aisles are less strident. Indeed, the scrutiny
placed upon marine pollution has done the retail sector a favour in helping to advance the adoption of a cost-effective and resource-efficient circular economy by encouraging consumers to become more consci- entious recyclers. Appealing espe- cially to the more environmentally savvy upcoming generations, it’s a trend with staying power too. And within the painful process of re-educating general perceptions of plastic as a useful and valuable resource not to be wasted, it’s a relatively small next step to pressing for its future production via an infinitely renewable rather than a steadily diminishing resource.
None of this will happen over- night, of course. Biobased remains a pretender to a throne whose credibil- ity still requires some shoring up. Likewise, and the erosion of those obstacles aside, its advocates will be acutely aware of the irony in a suc- cessful circular economy being largely fuelled by the perpetuation of the very material it seeks to replace.
Nevertheless, the sea-change in attitude at either end of the supply
ABOVE: Francois de Bie closing the well-attended 13th EUBP Conference
in Berlin.
OPPOSITE PAGE, TOP: Global production capacities projected by 2023 (European Bioplastics).
BOTTOM: Bio-based plastics production capacities (2018 cf 2023).
January-February 2019

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