Beverage biopackaging market to grow?

By Charlotte Eyre

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Packaging Biodegradable plastic Biodegradation

The global market for drinks packaged in compostable bottles will
reach €23m ($32m) in 2007, according to Zenith international, but
only if the necessary infrastructure is put in place.

The report, "Drinks Biopackaging 2007", examines the role of compostable biopackaging in the global drinks industry, focusing on how effort and investment are necessary if it is really to become a viable option for manufacturers. The market for this kind of packaging jumped 150 per cent in 2006, the report said. Compostable packaging in the beverage industry is predicted to multiply fivefold in Western Europe and the US, to reach 135 million litres in 2011. Biopackaging is used most frequently for drinks that connect with nature, health and wellbeing, such as smoothie firm Innocent and bottled water manufacturers such as Belu. "For beverage manufacturers, however, while the environmental virtues of compostable plastic bottles resonate well with consumers, a number of challenges remain,"​ commented Zenith research director Gary Roethenbaugh. ​There is clearly a shift towards biodegradeable packaging, he concluded, but more support is needed from government and municipal bodies. Ways of doing this would be reducing taxes on biopackaging used for beverages, and setting up government-backed programmes to maximise the use of compostable plastic bottles, Roethenbaugh suggested. The industry also needs systems set in place for separating bioplastics from existing PET recycling and waste management processes, which should then be integrated into larger, commercial composting facilities. "The beverage industry is at risk of falling behind other food applications for biopackaging unless there is more government support,"​ Roethenbaugh said. The report's findings are backed up with research carried out by the Campden and Chorleywood Food Research Association Group, which suggests that biodegradable and compostable packaging is only environmentally friendly when industrially composted. In the UK, for example, there are few systems available, so it often ends up producing methane - a greenhouse that contributes to global warming - in landfill sites. Another problem for manufacturers is that the current use of sustainable packaging is limited, as its moisture barrier properties are inferior to its petroleum polymer counterparts, said Catherine Chorley, author of the Campden and Chorleywood report. "To date, there are a limited number of viable biodegradable and compostable food packaging material options that are commercially available,"​ she said. Some companies, such as Stanlico, have also sold their biodegradable packaging arms, citing unprofitibility.

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