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Bioplastics 101: The Market for Bioplastics

Bioplastics 101: The Market for Bioplastics, NatureWorks, Inthanin, Dairy Home, Lego
In the third of a special editorial series ‘Bioplastics 101’, we look at the wide adoption of bioplastics in packaging and other applications across the globe.

The current major applications of bioplastics in packaging are foodservice and food, due to health and safety concerns, legislative requirements and, particularly in the West, the availability of industrial composting facilities for diversion of waste from the landfills. The use of biobased shopping bags is also increasing, due partly to legislation and partly to demand from consumers.

However, they are also increasingly been used in other packaging applications - demonstrating how far bioplastics materials have progressed in performance functionality.

What Brand Owners in the West are Doing
By end 2011, The Coca-Cola Company had bio-packaged five billion products. Meanwhile, Procter & Gamble (P&G) is shifting to biobased plastic for its Health & Beauty product ranges, and PepsiCo has committed to converting its products across all sectors to 100% biobased packaging.

Compostable flexible packaging film made from bioplastics has over the years seen increased usage across North America and Europe - as shrink film for various types of packaging, film for tea sachets and coffee packs and capsules, flexible wraps for confectionery, snack foods and chocolates.

Significant research into enhancing the performance functionality of bioplastics (i.e. form and stiffness, heat and impact endurance, fusing performance, etc) has also resulted in the material’s ability to be used in many other non-packaging markets such as durables goods.

Henkel’s Pritt ECOmfort correction roller was launched in September 2010, and is the first in the world with a shell made from 89% Ingeo PLA from NatureWorks. Ingeo has also been used as a sustainable performance material alternative for toothbrushes, mobile phone cases, and laptops.

Other non-packaging markets in which Ingeo is used include cards used for gift, gaming, hotel keys, loyalty & some transactional cards; nonwovens for skincare, apparel, furniture Components, baby care products and personal hygiene goods; textiles for clothing and home and bed furnishings; 3D printing; and even as a functional (lactide) ingredient in materials such as adhesives, coatings, printing toners and surfactants.

What Brand Owners in Developed Asian Markets are Doing
In Taiwan, brand owners and retailers such as McDonalds, KFC, Starbucks, 7-Eleven and FamilyMart have adopted Ingeo foodservice packaging.

Scotch Brite floor wipes sold in South Korea are manufactured from Ingeo nonwovens, as are some facial mask products. LGHausys flooring also uses Ingeo biopolymer in their product lines.Bioplastics 101: The Market for Bioplastics, NatureWorks, Inthanin, Dairy Home, Lego

In Japan, convenience store giant Lawson introduced Ingeo packaging for its ready-to-eat packaged meals from as early as September 2005. Meanwhile, Asahi Soft Drinks packages its RTD Japanese green tea product in bottles with over 50% Ingeo content. Ajinomoto not only shrink wraps its products in Ingeo film, it also uses product labels containing over 25wt% of Ingeo; this is the world’s thinnest PLA label at 35?m.

Ingeo is also used in other application markets in Japan; for example in office equipments by Ricoh, Canon and Fuji Xerox, and NEC desktop computers.

For some other models of car seats and interior carpets, automobile giant Toyota Motor Group uses the ‘GLOBIO’ branded bio-PET, made from plant-based bio-MEG (monoethylene glycol), from its own trading subsidiary Toyota Tsusho Corporation.

GLOBIO is also currently used in food and detergent packaging, as well as in beverage packaging – e.g. Suntory Natural Mineral Water uses it for its 550ml bottles. Toyota Tsusho is also preparing to introduce it for clothing and textile applications.

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