Over the past five years packaging suppliers have been introducing various forms of biodegradable plastics. These are made from a variety of plants, in the main corn, in response to projections that consumers and recycling regulations will drive demand for environmentally-friendly packaging. DuPont said its Biomax Strong 120 is a polymer additive that improves the performance of bio-based polylactic acid (PLA) packaging. The additive toughens PLA packaging materials while maintaining its compliance with food contact requirements in the US and in Europe, DuPont stated. The company introduced a similar additive in August 2006 for non-food applications. Both grades of Biomax Strong improve toughness performance with minimal reduction in package clarity, said Shanna Moore, global market manager for DuPont Packaging. "Offering a food contact compliant grade of Biomax Strong gives DuPont a way to help food marketers take better advantage of an environmentally preferred solution in packages such as clamshells used in fresh produce sections," she said. Some companies predict that the market will grow by about 20 per cent a year, and the products are an alternative to petroleum-based packaging such as the widely-used polyethylene terephthalate (PET). NatureWorks, part of Cargill, is one the main movers behind the biodegradable packaging trend with its introduction of polylactic acid (PLA), a corn-based polymer. Companies like US-based Naturally Iowa have been using PLA for packaging products like organic milk. Retailers like Delhaize in Belgium and Auchan in France have also been testing PLA for various food packaging. Demand for bioplastics in Europe experienced its first boom last year, according to a survey by the European Bioplastics Association, which has about 70 members. Currently bioplastics account for less than one percent of the European plastics market.