The increase represents a 2 to 3 per cent rise per year. Specialists in Business Information (SBI), which published the study, said the whole notion of sustainability in its ownright can be confusing to consumers. The company's report aims to clarify the terminologies used to determinewhat products fit into an eco-friendly profile and which do not.
While many consumers may only consider biodegradable packaging as truly "green," industry-wide, the notion of sustainability is much broader.
"For most food and beverage packaging products, the recyclability and re- usability of a material is paramount to its acceptance as sustainable,"said Tatjana Meerman, SBI's managing editor. "In addition, other eco-friendly factors, such as the amount of energy used to produce packaging from original raw materials versus recycled materials,transportation and fuel costs, costs to recycle, and other variables, are all factored into the discussion of sustainability."
Sustainable plastics, which grew by 5 per cent from 2001 to 2005, are expected to continue togrow at a similar rate through 2010 as demand for both rigid and flexible forms continues toincrease, and plastics, along with metals, continue to eat into the market share of glass, thereport stated.
Flexible packaging is also projected to grow at about 3 per cent during the next five years basedon the success of stand-up pouches and retort packaging, SBI stated.
Over the past five years packaging suppliers have been introducing various forms of biodegradableand recyclable plastics made from a variety of plants, in the main corn, based on projections thatconsumers and recycling regulations will drive demand for environmentally-friendly packaging . Somecompanies are predicting that the market will grow by about 20 per cent a year.
In addition, a combination of pricing and retail uptake has led more and more processors to lookat biodegradable natural polymer products as an alternative to polyethylene terephthalate (PET). Thesharp rise in the prices for petroleum, a major component of PET and other packaging plastics, hasmade bioplastics a competitive alternative.