Exhibition highlights growth in biodegradable packaging

Related tags Biodegradation

An upcoming exhibition on bioplastics and biopackaging aims to show
that environmentally friendly packaging has a strong future.

Innovationparc Bioplastics in Packaging​ will be held at the Düsseldorf Exhibition Center from 21 to 27 April during Interpack 2005​, and will give material producers, converters and packaging producers the opportunity to showcase their products.

"The special exhibition is proof of the increasing importance of bioplastics,"​ said Harald Kaeb, IBAW​ (international association for bioplastics and biodegradable polymers) chairman. "The interest from packaging users is unmistakable and the timing is perfect."

The past three years have seen the worldwide market introduction of biopackaging, and the rapid growth in both range of products and number of users demonstrates the market potential. In Europe, compostable biopackaging is now to be found in numerous supermarkets.

Leading retail chains, particularly in France, Great Britain, Italy and the Netherlands are testing these types of products and have already converted sections of their product lines. The majority of packaging is used for fresh produce such as fruit andvegetables or hygiene products.

Indeed, 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.

Datamonitor statistics show that more than one-third of European consumers live alone and are spending €140 billion a year on food, drinks and personal care products. Single people spend 50 per cent more per person on consumer-packaged goods than a two adult household. Such trends underline why the environmental impact of food packaging has never been greater.

Cargill Dow's NaturalWorks PLA was the first commercially viable biopolymer to be derived from corn. The chemical giant claims that the product performs equal to or better than traditional resins, and it is of course much more environmentally friendly.

Like PET, the corn-based plastic permits a multitude of varied and complex bottle shapes and sizes that draw the attention of the consumer. Monolayer bottles of NatureWorks PLA can be formed on the same injection-moulding/stretch blow-moulding equipment used for PET, with no sacrifice in production rate.

Another recent innovation is Biosphere Industries' new starch-based moisture resistant packaging material - PPM100 - which the company claims is the latest natural raw material to achieve approval from the Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI).

The certification demonstrates that this new material meets the specifications in ASTM D6868 and will biodegrade swiftly and safely during municipal, commercial, or household composting. Biosphere claims that its new material, PPM100, has properties comparable to polystyrene foam and can be used for food service applications as well as general packaging.

During the conference, the German funding body FNR (Agency for Renewable Resources) will provide additional information, and presentations and podium discussions will highlight application possibilities and conditions for market introduction.

Economic and legal framework conditions, perspectives ofa wider market introduction, questions concerning quality assuranceand labelling, as well as new waste recovery options will be amongstthe topics covered in the forums.

The exhibition "Innovationparc Bioplastics in Packaging" will beheld in a purpose-built hall in the open area which connects Halls 9 and17 of the exhibition centre.

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