Major global food and beverage brands join alliance to support development of bioplastics

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 20th November 2013

Eight of the world’s leading consumer brand companies and conservation group World Wildlife Fund (WWF) have announced the formation of the Bioplastic Feedstock Alliance (BFA) to support the development of plastics made from plant material.

The Coca-Cola Company, Danone, Nestle, H.J. Heinz Company, Unilever, Proctor and Gamble, Ford and Nike Inc. have partnered with the WWF to form the BFA. The primary focus of BFA will be on guiding the responsible selection and harvesting of feedstocks — such as sugar cane, corn, bulrush and switchgrass — used to make plastics from agricultural materials.

The BFA said that as the development of these renewable materials has grown, so has the opportunity to address their potential impacts on land use, food security and biodiversity. BFA intends to bring together leading experts from industry, academia and civil society to “develop and support informed science, collaboration, education and innovation to help guide the evaluation and sustainable development of bioplastic feedstocks”.

Consumers globally are increasingly looking for more sustainable products, according to BFA, including those made from plant-based plastics. With increasing market demand for food and fibre in the coming decades, BFA said responsible sourcing of these materials would be key to enabling sustainable growth.

“This alliance will go a long way in ensuring the responsible management of natural resources used to meet the growing demand for bioplastics,” said Erin Simon of WWF. “Ensuring that our crops are used responsibly to create bioplastics is a critical conservation goal, especially as the global population is expected to grow rapidly through 2050,” she said.

The Alliance’s eight founding companies, along with WWF, are supported by academic experts, supply chain partners, suppliers and technology development companies, which are focusing on a variety of issues, challenges and possible tools within the growing bioplastic industry.

Nestle interested in ‘second generation’ bioplastics

Food and beverage manufacturer Nestle said bioplastics made from sugar cane and other plant-based materials are used in its product portfolio. Since early 2012, for example, several sizes of VITTEL bottled water have been packaged in PET bottle made from 30 per cent plant-based material.

Nestle said it is particularly interested in ‘second generation’ bioplastics made, for example, from the by-products of the forestry, agriculture of food chain — such as molasses or cane residue — or non-food sources such as algae, cellulose and waste products.

“Joining the Alliance means we will be able to help build a more sustainable future for the bioplastics industry whilst addressing issues such as land use, food security and biodiversity,” said Anne Roulin, Nestle’s Global Research and Development Sustainability Manager.

Bioplastic Feedstock Alliance will develop bioplastic industry (image credit: BFA)