A sustainable bio-packaging material to replace polypropylene

By Katie Bird

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Carbon dioxide

A new starch based bio-packaging material promises to replace
polypropylene, helping the plastic packaging industry to reduce its
reliance on oil.

Bio-based packaging is increasingly being used as a replacement for petroleum-based plastics. The demand is being driven by anti-pollution legislation and by demand from environmentally conscious consumers. The Californian-based company Cereplast claims its biopropylene resin is an industry first and could replace traditional polypropylene in the vast majority of applications. The company estimates that the current global market for polypropylene is about a hundred billion pounds in volume, illustrating the market importance of the plastic and the development of more sustainable alternatives that do not rely on fossil fuels. The product is one of a new range of sustainable resins, Cereplast Hybrid Resins, in which between 50 and 70 percent of the traditional petroleum content of the plastic resins has been replaced with bio-based materials. This, in turn, means that the prices of the resins are more stable as the products are less reliant on petroleum based materials - subject to volatile price changes. In addition to lower fossil fuel content, the resins are produced at lower temperatures, thereby further decreasing their environmental impact. The range provides an 'opportunity for companies across the plastic supply chain to become more environmentally sustainable and reduce the industry's reliance on oil'​ said Frederic Scheer, chairman and CEO of Cereplast. Consumer demand for environmentally friendly cosmetics is growing and manufacturers are looking to packaging​ companies to help them provide eco-friendly solutions. The industry appears to be reacting fast to this demand, with the recent release of a significant number of advances towards sustainability and eco-friendliness from top packaging firms. Of note is Cereplast's already existing line of compostable resins in which bio-based starch products, such as corn, wheat and potato starches, replace nearly 100 per cent of petroleum based additives, resulting in products that will compost in commercial facilities within 180 days leaving no chemical residue. In addition, Curtis, another US-based packaging firm, recently announced it had been certified percent carbon neutral by the UK-based Carbon Neutral Company, a status that it gained by offsetting unavoidable carbon dioxide emissions. In addition, the company uses renewable energy to power all its operations and is Forest Stewardship Council certified for its environmentally sustainable practices. Similarly, earlier this month eco-friendly packaging firm Plantic sealed a development, marketing and branding agreement with chemical firm DuPont that will lead it into the US market. And World Wide Packaging is poise to launch several eco-friendly packaging innovations onto the global market including plastic tubes made from used milk cartons.

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