Big Brands Embracing Bioplastics
We all love the convenience of easy to buy, easy to use products that fill our supermarkets. Convenience means packaging and that means that there are no escaping plastics in our life. Packaging is the single biggest application of plastic globally with most packaging being disposable, single-use items. Unfortunately, even though recycling exists in many countries, only 2% of recycling globally is turned into new packaging. In addition, with 8 million tonnes of the material enter the ocean each year something has to change.
There are now positive signs that both governments and industry are moving towards a circular economy, where the end use of plastics and packaging is considered from the outset. It looks like bioplastics are no longer just of interest to sustainability focused consumers, big brands have started taking note of bioplastics advantages.
Forward thinking big brands are taking a lead and are calling for the consumer goods industry to step-up its efforts to tackle the mounting challenge of ocean plastic waste and create a circular economy for plastics.
The Ellen MacArthur Foundation announced at the World Economic Forum on January 22nd 2018 a list of 11 big brands working towards using 100 per cent reusable, recyclable or compostable packaging by 2025. Big names including Amcor, Ecover, evian, L’Oréal, Mars, M&S, PepsiCo, the Coca-Cola Company, Unilever, Walmart, and Werner & Mertz, have chosen to lead the way for other brand-owners, retailers and plastics processors to make the consumables market more sustainable. Considering they represent over six million tonnes of plastic packaging annually, these companies can create real impact.
With an ever-growing number of big brands turning to bioplastic solutions, the market penetration is well on its way. Brands such as Procter & Gamble, Puma, Samsung, IKEA, Tetra Pak, Heinz, Stella McCartney, Gucci and retail leader Iceland UK have already introduced first large scale products in Europe.
There are also other well-known names committing to change, for example, Lego allocated one billion kroner (AUS$162.8 million) to research more sustainable materials. In the automotive market, Ford, Toyota and Mercedes have introduced various bioplastic components in several car models and electronics giant Fujitsu already uses bioplastics in some of its products.
Although the impact of all of these big brands making changes will not be immediate, they will start resonating through their supply chain with suppliers and manufacturers needing to look at viable functional alternatives including plant based compostable bioplastics . The next few years will be an exciting time for the bioplastic market and for consumers. Consumers will be able to make informed decisions and choose products and packaging that have a positive impact.