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Bioplastics guidance document a forward step, claims industry

By Joe Whitworth , 12-Sep-2012
Last updated the 12-Sep-2012 at 15:01 GMT

A guidance document aimed at safeguarding communication along the bioplastic chain has been hailed as a ‘step in the right direction’ from two firms involved in the industry.

Cereplast designs and manufactures biobased, compostable and sustainable bioplastics and Cardia Bioplastics is a developer, manufacturer and marketer of resins from renewable resources.

European Bioplastics published a document this week in response to “widespread greenwashing” in the industry.

The Environmental Communications Guide for Bioplastics (ECG) outlined good and bad examples of relevant claims in environmental communications.

Need for uniformity

Nicole Cardi, vice president of marketing and communications, told FoodProductionDaily.com said the terms used by industry need to be understood by everyone.

Greenwashing is a problem--specifically when large companies that have a lot of power engage in the practice. Chronic misuse of terms can cause confusion and distrust amongst consumers regarding specific terms.

“A tremendous amount of consumer education is needed regarding terminology and also certification labels.”

Cardi said the more complex the information is the more confusing it is for consumers.

“This also creates a challenge for marketers who want to express the benefits of the product with limited space, and without overwhelming the customer with too much information.

“A document such as this can help take communication about bioplastics in the right direction, but it requires good will, good faith and knowledge to be successful.”

Cardia viewpoint

“Packagers need to put forward in what context is it biodegradable and why put forward that it is sustainable.

“It is important to support the defined terms with substance so there are clear guidelines to be measured by.

“Greenwashing claims questions industry credibility and it is important to support our products.”

Glatz said that for the packagers they work with claims that can be supported are an integral part.

“The document is nothing new to us and we embrace it as the companies we work with are strict in their communications on this.

“We know there are still challenges ahead in how to communicate best we are still developing as an industry.”

When asked how the firms ensure all the claims they make are clear, Cardi said: “Every claim we make is supported, however, we cannot control what our customers do.

“We make recommendations and give them the information they need, but ultimately they are the ones communicating with their consumers.”

Glatz added: “Cardia is vigilant in what we claim and what we don’t, but the problem is not everyone is as educated as us in the sector.

“It could be an unintentional misleading claim so this document helps consumers do the right thing.”

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