Biodegradable Plastics Made from Natural Resources

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has developed a new plastic capable of being thermoformed. The material is biodegradable and because of this, is best for disposable food packaging. To accomplish this development, the Agricultural Research Service incorporated biodegradable sugar beet pulp- the leftover residue from sugar extraction. They took this substance and incorporated it with a biodegradable polymer. The combination resulted in thermoplastic composites that retain mechanical properties similar to polystyrene and polypropylene which are extremely common plastics for thermoforming products. Processors of the sugar beet pulp produce tons of the substance annually, making it a viable, long-term product of agricultural business.

Source: Packaging Digest

Non-Biodegradable Bioplastics Take the Lead

Positive developments in bioplastics production have increased success predictions for the use and manufacturing of non-biodegradble bioplastics. A market of around 1.2 million tonnes is predicted to see an increase in production volumes fivefold by 2016. The result of this market forecast is published by the industry association European Bioplastics. The strongest growth in this market will be in the biobased, non-biodegradable bioplastics group. These “drop-in” solutions are building up large capacities because of their differentiation from conventional solutions based on theri renewable raw material base. In the lead is partially biobased PET accounting for about 40% of the global bioplastics production capacity. The pattern of growth in this market will consistently allow for the development of sustainable solutions because there will always be an increasing demand.  Read more at Packaging Digest

More Evidence of Green Packaging Growth

World demand for green packaging is expected to rise 5.7% per year to $212 billion in 2015. We’ve been tracking these projections for a couple of years now. Without becoming redundant, it should be noted that these growth numbers have been consistent. A lot of speculation rose over the green packaging market a few years ago that is was a passing fad. But surviving a terrible world economy is a tell tale sign that the demand is real.

This new growth projection for green packaging comes from a new study by the Freedonia Group. The study shows recycled-content packaging as being the largest product type by far. However, recycled-content packaging will see the slowest increases due to the maturity of products such as metal cans and glass containers. Reusable and degradable packaging will experience above-average growth with degradable packaging in particular seeing double digit annual growth rates. Though degradable packaging’s demand will increase significantly, it will only make up approximately 1% of the overall green packaging market by 2015.

The largest regional green packaging market in the world will remain Asia/Pacific at $79 billion because of its large food and beverage industries. Asia will see some of the fastest growth in India, China,  and Indonesia. Other countries such as Russia, Turkey, Brazil, and Mexico will see healthy gains as well.

Accounting for 23% of the green packaging market in 2010, the US has the largest market share by a long shot. Other mature markets can be found in Germany as well as Japan though Japan’s growth is expected to slow down quite a bit.

Stay tuned…..although at this point we can predict the same type of story in the next study.

After Centuries, Bananas Finally Get Packaging

The history of the banana goes back centuries but the fruit has never had its own packaging. Maybe it’s because a banana doesn’t need packaging? The banana skin itself is strong and biodegradable but has now, after all these years, been deemed insufficient.

Del Monte has come up with their individual plastic wrappers as packaging for bananas. Many people think it’s completely unnecessary because bananas don’t need packaging and adding the plastic wrapper is wasteful. Del Monte however, says the plastic banana package features “Controlled ripening technology” which extends the shelf life of the fruit. Further, this technology could actually reduce the carbon footprint by cutting back the frequency of deliveries. Plus, it’s recyclable.

It’s a very interesting argument. Tell us what you think. Is this banana wrapper necessary or completely preposterous?

Consumer Interest in Green Products Rises

The annual Global Green Brands Study revealed that interest in green products has increased significantly in the past year. The research polled over 9,000 people in 8 countries.

Personal care, grocery, and household products still have the greatest presence among companies in the Top Ten Green Brands List which was produced from the survey (See the list below). This is due to the increased intelligence consumers are getting on green products. Interestingly, the study also found that consumers are ready to take their green purchases to the next level by spending money on big ticket items such as cars and technology.

TOP TEN GREEN BRANDS LIST:
1. Seventh Generation
2. Whole Foods
3. Tom’s of Maine
4. Burt’s Bees
5. Trader Joe’s
6. The Walt Disney Company
7. S.C. Johnson
8. Dove
9. Apple
10. Starbucks, Microsoft (tied)

Just like last year’s study, more than 60% of the consumers polled said they wanted to buy products from environmentally responsible companies even if that meant paying more for them. In fact, consumers in developing countries were willing to pay up to 33% more for green products.

PACKAGING STILL A CONCERN
Another interesting finding from the poll was the concern over packaging, especially among US consumers. 71% believe companies use too much material in packaging while about 50% feel that packaging that can be recycled is more important than packaging made from recycled or biodegradable materials. Only 34% of US consumers polled said they consciously purchase products that use less packaging.

Packaging was also critical as a communication tool. Communicating product benefits to US consumers was vital. Packaging helps explain why a product is green and how green a product is. 40% polled say that packaging is their PRIMARY source for information on environmental issues regarding products.

What is That Noise?…….Part 2

If you recall our blog post from October and the many stories that surfaced about SunChips new compostable chip bag, you will remember all criticism they received. Consumers were annoyed and confused by the loud noise the packaging made. Well that didn’t stop SunChips from moving forward and improving what they started. They are trying to get it right this time by introducing a new version of their previous attempt, that is less noisy.

The problem with the first round of biodegradable packaging was the adhesive. Their was a razor thin layer of adhesive that was used to separate the inside of the bag from the outside logos and additional information. This adhesive created a noise barrier. The barrier led to uncovering decibel levels of the chip packaging. The noisy bag had levels of 80-85 decibels and has now dropped to 70 decibels for the new packaging. You can find the new packaging in stores now and it will be available in the original flavors. They are waiting to hear feedback before they issue the new packaging for the rest of its product line. They hope this new packaging will produce a better outcome, without the outrage that happened before.

Organic Tea and Eco-Friendly Packaging

Rishi Tea has introduced a new organic and caffeine-free herbal tea line that is using eco-friendly packaging. What makes this new line unique is that the new package design has a label that can be peeled off which will allow consumers to reuse and recycle the tins. Rishi Tea also promotes saving the environment through daily operations by reducing their waste, conserving energy, and reducing their ecological footprint. Some examples of how they do this include: printing all marketing materials on 100% post-consumer waste paper,  composting used tealeaves, and using soy ink for labels.

Tea Forte is an award winning specialty tea company that is enjoyed worldwide. Recently they have also launched a new line of organic herbal teas. They decided to package their different kinds of teas in recyclable, air-tight EnviroTins. Each tins contains biodegradable full-leaf sachets made from GMO-free corn silk. They hope their new eco-friendly packaging will re-define the tea experience.

Just Add Water

Replenish, the creator of the patented, Reusable Bottle System, has designed a way to transform how cleaning products are packaged. This new invention consists of two components. The first one is the pod. The pod is full of a non toxic, safe for the environment liquid that is readily biodegradable and has a PH balance of neutral. The second component is the bottle. The bottle comes empty and the only requirement is that it gets filled with water.

How it works: First you attach the pod to the base of the bottle. It screws on like a garden hose. Then you flip it upside down and squeeze it. A built in measuring cup allows you to squeeze the right amount. Water is then added and the two mix together, resulting in your very own household cleaner. Every pod contains enough cleaner to make four full bottles of cleaning solution. Pods are sold separately, so when the pod runs out, simply replace it with a new one, without having to buy a whole new bottle.

60 billion pounds of plastic is discarded annually and only 7% is recycled. Replenish wants to cut back on that amount by creating packaging that can be reused and recycled. By mixing the Replenish pods at home, 90% less plastic and oil are being used. The bottle’s spray head is 100% recyclable and contains no metal springs and has been tested to last more than 10,000 trigger pulls. The plastic bottle is also eco-friendly and is made with 100% PET recyclable materials. The cleaner is also environmentally friendly in that the ingredients are 98% plant derived.

Sustainable Packaging Flourishes Despite A Weak Economy

Most sectors of packaging have been taking a hit during these tough economic times, but not sustainable packaging. Sustainable packaging has experienced positive growth over the past two years and it’s not expected to slow down. According to “Sustainable (Green) Packaging: A Global Strategic Business Report”, the green packaging market should to be worth $142 billion by 2015.

What sectors of packaging are the key developers of sustainable packaging? Cosmetics and personal care, food and beverage, shipping, and healthcare packaging have all embraced green packaging to a large degree.

There are key driving forces that account for the growth of sustainable packaging. Growing concerns of the environment around the globe is number one. Also, stricter government regulations are making it mandatory for companies to adhere to sustainable practices and production. Other drivers include increased awareness about recycling of packaging wastes and companies cutting costs by using recycled and reusable materials in manufacturing.

The United States and Europe currently cover more than 70 percent of the global green packaging market. Recycled material is the most important packaging category in the US, accounting for 90 percent of the total demand.

The fastest growing region for green packaging is expected to be Asia-Pacific with 10 percent annual growth over the next 5 years. The fastest growing segment of the packaging industry are biodegradables with the highest demand coming from bioplastics.

The Future of Packaging, Part 1

Like many other industries, the packaging industry has suffered through the current recession. Sustainable packaging, however, has showed impressive growth from 2008 to 2009, and has been immune to the economic downturn. Sustainability has helped companies cut costs and reduce packaging waste by using recycled and reusable materials. Europe and the U.S. represent the largest regions for sustainable packaging, together accounting for more than 70 percent of the global market.

Sustainable packaging is projected to reach $142.42 billion globally by 2015, according to a report from Global Industry Analysts (GIA). Drivers for growth include increased awareness about environmental hazards related to disposal and recycling of packaging wastes, government initiatives to minimize greenhouse gas emissions, and stringent regulations.

As eco-friendly packaging becomes mainstream, many companies are implementing green packaging as a marketing tool. Manufacturers also are under pressure to use environment-friendly materials, and adopt methods that require low-energy consumption and reduce environmental impact of packaging.

In terms of market segmentation, recycled material accounts for the largest packaging category, contributing nearly 90 percent to the total demand in the United States. However, biodegradables represent the fastest growing segment in the packaging industry. Biodegradable materials are easily decomposed by microorganisms, and reduce packaging waste, while the materials preserve food products and sustain freshness. Among biodegradables, bioplastics are garnering the greatest attention in the green packaging market. As questions loom about the limitations of bioplastics, the demand continues to swell, presenting an opportunistic market as bioplastics evolve.

Markets using sustainable packaging include cosmetics and personal care, food and beverage, food service and shipping markets, and healthcare. As an example, the study cites more than 600 new beauty products with a green label were introduced in Europe alone during the past two years, driven by consumer preference for eco-friendly plastic packaging materials.

27 percent of products at major U.S. retailers are estimated to have sustainable packaging in 2010, and by 2015, this figure is projected to reach 37 percent.

To be continued…..

Check out: Green Packaging 365