Nature & More, an international distributor of organic produce, is using the new packaging material. Paul Hendriks, Nature & More packaging expert, said in a news release, “the company is using the fiber-based paperboard for organic vine tomatoes, pears and cape gooseberries at the request of some retail customers.”
Similarly, Coca-Cola’s Plantbottle packaging is made partially out of sugarcane. Coke Company uses polyethylene terephthalate (PET) resin. As of 2010, over 2.5 billion Plantbottle packages have reached the marketplace. Places like SeaWorld and Busch Gardens theme parks have created refillable souvenir cups using this substance.
Heinz recently teamed up with Ford Motor Company to study the use of leftover tomato skin, seeds and peels to create plastic car parts. This is not something new for Ford Motor, currently the seat cushions are made from soy foam and composite materials that contain coconuts.
There is some controversy surrounding bioplastics. According to a recent article from Packaging Europe, the majority of the plastics made from plants cannot be composted. In a landfill they will stay there the same amount of time as petroleum made bottles which is forever. Moreover, genetically modified corn is the number one component for many bioplastic products. Consumers that are worried about the GMO corn in their food are also concerned about the products created with GMO corn.
Ten percent of total U.S. oil consumption is used for the production of conventional plastics. As oil prices continue to rise, so does the cost of plastic materials, nearly all of which are petroleum-based. These types of costs are passed on to both clients and industries.
The Bioplastic Feedstock Alliance (BFA) was formed in 2013 by some of the world’s major consumer brands and consists of eight companies, including: Coca- Cola Company, Danone, Ford, HJ Heinz Company and Nike. These industries came together to create consumer awareness with ecofriendly feedstock sources for bio-based plastics.
Avantium, a leading technology company that specializes in the area of advanced catalytic research, is working on the development of polyethylene furanoate (PEF) from 100% plant based, 2nd generation feedstock. Both Coca-Cola and Danone teamed up with Avantium to support research into PEF bottles. It seems that Coca-Cola may be interested in switching from PET bottles to PEF bottles, in the future.
Looking to the near future, the extensive use of petroleum-based plastic products and the dependence on fossil fuels is economically untenable. In addition, petroleum based products do not really biodegrade. The solution may be to create bioplastics. The majority of customers support a business that is “green” friendly rather one that isn’t. As the environmental awareness rises among the general population, so does the demand for environmentally-friendly products.