The Biodegradable Plastic Packaging Conference, organised by IntertechPira, is taking place in Prague on 17-18 in June. Bioplastics, which are often produced from renewable sources, are being increasingly sought by food processors as part of a solution to environmental concerns over waste and fossil fuels use. However, the bioplastics industry is under increasing scrutiny following on from inaccurate biodegradability claims from some plastic packaging manufacturers. Understanding sustainability "This conference is all about encouraging debate within the industry by comparing biodegrading with recycling, looking at international standards, assessing the environmental conditions required for biodegradability and composting as well as the cost implications of the various processes involved," a spokesperson for event organiser, IntertechPira, told FoodProductionDaily.com Attendees can get up to date on the trade offs between performance and sustainability, the drivers and barriers for bioplastics and regulatory developments, as well as the difficulties and progress around integrating bioplastic into traditional waste disposal infrastructure. "The conference is an opportunity for representatives from every level in the supply chain, throughout Europe and beyond, to come together to understand what true sustainability means for packaging," added the spokesperson. Key players The conference line-up includes key industry players such as Novamont, BASF, Natureworks and Dupont. The environmental officer from UK retail chain, Lush, will give the retailer's perspective on sustainable packaging and waste management while Plantic Technologies from Australia will reflect on consumer perception of eco-packaging, said the organisers. As bioplastics manufacturing also needs fossil fuels to drive the different production steps, the show's organisers said that a talk on how bioplastics producers are replacing a part of these fossil fuels with renewable energy is sure to draw interest. Bioplastics studyA study, published by UK-based market analysts Applied Market Information (AMI) last month, claims that the market for bioplastics remained small, not least because of a lack of facilities to ensure that the packaging can be recycled or composted properly. "Less than one per cent of global polymers are currently classified as compostable bioplastics according to the European EN 13432 standard," AMI analyst Chris Noble told FoodProductionDaily.com. "This means that plastics have to completely biodegrade into harmless microscopic fragments within 90 days. However, the standard allows for this to take place within ideal composting conditions, such as industrial composting facilities where the materials are heated to high temperatures in order to accelerate the composting process." "Obviously, these materials will take much longer to compost in a home composting environment, and critics argue there isn't a sufficiently well developed network of industrial composting facilities in, for example, the UK to justify investment in these materials," he added.