Page 46 - Packaging News Magazine Jan-Feb 2019
P. 46

January-February 2019
Parkside, which is represented in Australia by PA Packaging Solu- tions, has been ahead of the rest of the pack having spent the past eight years developing compostable flexi- ble packaging – largely in isolation, although Amcor was an early poten- tial competitor. With the interest now being shown by some of the larger brands in a bio-based solution for food-contact film, its persever- ance is now beginning to pay off.
And there’s more to come, says Shaw. “We’re focused upon options for sustainability, of which composting is one – but not the full solution. It should only be used where it adds benefit. We’re also looking at developing mechanical recycling options as well including multi-layer barrier lami- nates that can be recycled via the PE chain.” Meanwhile, having produced the world’s first-ever compostable crisps pack for the Two Farmers brand, it has just attained the same status with ground coffee for Percol, which is switching over its entire range to compostable packaging in line with its ‘plastic-free’ positioning.
Straddling the drop-in / compostable divide is PLA (polylactide), which can technically be mechanically or organ- ically recycled. According to forecasts produced by the European Bioplastics association its current 10.3 per cent share of the biobased market is set to
exceed 16 per cent by 2023, making it the sector’s leading polymer.
“I guess that after some 15 years in the market we’ve found the sweet spot, where we’ve got the function materials fit with what works: whether it’s coffee capsules; redesigning coatings for paper; food serviceware; or rigid applications, and where there’s a great alignment with what’s going,” says Nature- Works VP performance packaging Steve Davies.
Having been first in the field with a PLA solution, NatureWorks now competes with Total Corbion, which has just brought on stream an additional 75,000 tonnes per annum capacity through its recently inaugurated new production facility in Thailand: the second largest plant worldwide, it boosts the annual volume of PLA on the market to around 240,000 tonnes per annum.
“We’re glad to see it,” says Davies. “We can’t move from niche to main- stream with just a single supplier; there’s plenty of room for others.”
In the meantime, NatureWorks not surprisingly is also looking to step up capacity. “We last thought about it in 2010 / 2011, but the market’s changed a lot since then so there are a lot of new factors for consideration before we get ready to build. We’re back looking at all options: so that’s the US, Europe, Asia. It’s an align- ment of where the feedstock is, where the market is and what’s the local incentive package? It’s proba- ble a three-year runway.”
While it’s a strong performer within the bio-based sector itself, PLA still only accounts for a frac- tional 0.2 per cent of all plastic packaging. That’s about to change, however, says Total Corbion senior marketing director (and current chair of European Bioplastics) François de Bie. “By 2025 we’re pre- dicting it’ll be between 8 – 14 per cent of all packaging in plastics. That’s a significant volume that will make it worth recycling.”
But will the collection agencies actually be bothered to do it? “That’s the million dollar question – but I think the answer is simple,” says de Bie. “We’ve spoken with many of the recycling and sorting companies, and as soon as PLA becomes avail- able in a significant amount of volume and there’s an economic viability to sell it downstream into other recycle applications, then they’ll start sorting it out, and they will start selling it, and they will start making a profit.”
By 2025... PLA will be between 8-14% of all plastics in packaging.”
– Francois de Bie, chair European Bioplastics

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