Packaging suppliers are constantly on the lookout for high-quality forms of biodegradable materials, as consumers and regulatory bodies are demanding environmentally-friendly packaging. Mandates from giant supermarkets, forcing suppliers to make the switch, are also coming into effect. Netherlands-based Purac, a producer of lactic acid for the food sector, said that the new lactides will contain (L+) and D(-) lactic acids. The new lactides will be sold to companies that will use them to make bio-plastics that can withstand greater heat than ever before, said Arno van de Ven, vice-president of the chemicals and pharmaceuticals division. "Purac bridges the technology gap that currently restricts the plastics industry to accelerate the PLA market growth," he told FoodProductionDaily.com. The new materials will be suitable for applications as diverse as hot-fill bottles, microwaveable trays, temperature resistant fibres and electronics, and will withstand temperatures of up to 175 Celsius, he added. "The technology will reduce costs and investments for the bio-plastics industry and significantly contribute to the growth of the PLA market," he said. " Bio-plastics producers can now produce compounds for a wide variety of new high-end applications." A new report suggests that while current trends lean towards bio-packaging, more investment is needed if it really is to be adopted by the food industry. According to research carried out by the UK Campden and Chorleywood Food Research Association Group, the current use of sustainable packaging is limited as its barrier properties are inferior to its petroleum polymer counterparts. The report also claims that biodegradable and compostable packaging is only environmentally friendly when industrially composted, and in the UK, for example, there are few systems available. Companies who have invested in PLA over the last 5 years include Amcor, Bebo, and US-based Naturally Iowa, while retailers like Delhaize in Belgium and Auchan in France have been testing PLA for various food packaging. Purac, a subsidiary of CSM, produces lactic acid, lactates, gluconates, lactitol, lactides and polylactides, for the meat, bakery, confectionery, dairy, cosmetics and pharma industries.