Bioplastics event signals dawning of new packaging era

Related tags Biodegradation Polylactic acid

Bioplastics trade association IBAW claims that the inaugural
special exhibition Bioplastics in Packaging was a major
success at Interpack 2005.

The exhibition attracted more than 10,000 trade visitors, and its popularity underlines growing industry interest in the field of sustainable packaging.

"Bioplastics have a great future ahead of them,"​ said Harald Kaeb, IBAW Chairman. "Visitors were impressed by the variety and standard of performance of the products."

The company behind NatureWorks PLA for example, a biodegradable natural polymer derived from plant sugars, believes it could be the first cost-effective biodegradable alternative to challenge the market dominance of PET.

"We know we have to be within a reasonable cost-comparison to PET,"​ Mark Vergauwen, business development manager of NatureWorks LLC, told at Interpack 2005.

"But raw materials for oil-based packaging solutions have been going up, and going the other way, we have been able to bring our costs down. This means that we are starting to meet PET on the market at similar price levels."

Many analysts believe that biodegradable packaging has a bright future. Growing environmental awareness and consumer power coupled with the inexorable rise in pre-packaged disposable meals means that food manufacturers and packagers are increasingly being targeted to improve their environmental performances.

There is now a growing trend towards favouring environmentally friendly packaging in legislation. In future, compostable packaging will be favoured by the German packaging rules, which will exempt them from the 'Green Dot' fees.

Indeed, legislation is increasingly in favour of furthering measures to support the market introduction of bioplastics. As these productsuse renewable raw materials such as cornstarch, sugar or vegetable oil, they have a low environmental impact and are not as easily affected by increases in oil prices as conventional plastics.

In addition, European agricultural associations point out that these products could form a significant new source of income for farmers and help improve the image of responsible of agriculture.

The exhibition was organised by the Düsseldorf Exhibition Centre in conjunction with the industry association IBAW. Exhibitors from Europe, the USA and Japan participated, and featured food packaging used in European supermarkets.

The International Biodegradable Polymers Association and Working Groups​, (IBAW), an international branch association for the promotion of innovation in bioplastics and biodegradable materials, anticipates ever-increasing interest in bioplastics.

Some 2,668 exhibitors from 106 countries were represented at Interpack 2005, the 17th International Fair for packaging machinery, packaging, and confectionery machinery. A record 176,000 visitors attended the event, which was held 21 to 27 April 2005 in Düsseldorf.

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