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'Robust' growth for biodegradable plastics in Europe

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By Rachel Arthur+

04-Aug-2014

biodegradable packaging, Europe, Starch, PLA

Biodegradable plastics for food and beverages are seeing ‘robust growth’ in Europe, driven by rising consumer awareness and regulations in favour of the packaging, according to TechSci Research. 

But the sector still faces the expense of developing packaging specifically for food use, and the reduced performance of biodegradable plastics when exposed to high temperatures or variations in pH.

Karan Chechi, research director, TechSci Research, told FoodProductionDaily.com the European biodegradable plastics market is forecast to grow at CAGR 12% from 2014 to 2019, with the food and drink section taking its share.  

High temperatures, variations in pH

Biodegradable plastics are gradually increasing their presence in fast food and bottled water packaging,” said Chechi.  

Starch and PLA have emerged as the most widely used polymers for food and beverage packaging applications. The environmental benefits of these biodegradable plastics are the lower energy required for production, lower greenhouse gas emissions, and lack of toxin release,” he added.

TechSci Research reports growing investment in research and development in the bioplastics sector - by both public and private sectors – but the expense is an issue.  

Challenges are the R&D expense of going into development of packaging specific to food, and the reduced performance and stability issues when packaging is exposed to high temperature or varied pH,” said Chechi.

Multilayer packaging

Biodegradable plastics for food and beverage packaging require the use of non-toxic, GM free polymers, which are approved by regulatory agencies and protect the quality of food items underneath.

"Biodegradable plastics that have been specially developed for food and beverages need to exhibit properties such as gas permeability, high tensile strength and chemical resistance.

An effective development to maintain the performance of packaging while using a biodegradable polymer is the use of multilayer packaging, in order to perform the same function of a conventional plastic.

European Union countries have a dominant share in the overall European biodegradable plastics market, with Italy, Germany and France leading the way.

The driving factors for steady growth in biodegradable plastics in these countries include consumer awareness against the use of non-biodegradable plastics, the prohibition on the sale of plastic shopping bags, and a relaxation in taxes and other duties on the use of biodegradable plastics for food packaging material, shopping bags, disposable goods, etc,” he said. 

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2 comments

PLA use in Bottled beverages

The 3 R s should remain the most prominent aspect for Sustainability -Re-use, Reduce and Remove.
PLA use in bottled products will not assist in the Recycl-ing / Recycle reuse of plastic materials, since most Recycling facilities do NOT have the required levels of sophistication to remove these from the collection/processing systems. PLA should not be used in solid walled thicker packaging and products, PLA has been shown not to decompose in the required 60 day composting cycle period !

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Posted by Dean Chilton
06 August 2014 | 18h38

Robust Growth for Biodegradable Plastics.

Scientific American Magazine presented a study done by two prominent scientists in August, 2000. It showed how manufacturing of PLA uses far more energy than conventional PET.Furthermore, PLA is not "Biodegradable" by any globally accepted standards such as ISO or ASTM.

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Posted by Bob P.
04 August 2014 | 17h51