Posts

Tetra Pak launches first plant-based bioplastic packaging

Tetra Pak, the multinational food packaging and processing company, has become the first business in the industry to use plant-based bioplastic packaging. These polymers are created from sugarcane and form part of Tetra Pak’s commitment to follow ethical and responsible business practices, called the ‘Planet Positive’ initiative.

 

This initiative encourages industry stakeholders to take a closer look at sustainability, the low-carbon circular economy, recycling and reuse. It aims to make stakeholders think about the carbon impact of raw materials and manufacturing. 

 

Tetra Pak lowers carbon footprint

 

The use of bioplastic packaging will also lower the company’s global carbon footprint. “We’ve seen a growing trend of consumers wanting to do more for the planet, and they look to brands to help,” says the Tetra Pak vice president of sustainability, Mario Abreu.

 

The bioplastic packaging is certified by Bonsucro – an international not-for-profit organisation that aims to promote sustainable sugarcane by reducing the environmental impacts of sugarcane production. 

 

“Today, 91% of consumers look for environmental logos when shopping, and Bonsucro Chain of Custody Certification can be used to communicate credible information to consumers, thereby helping our customers differentiate their products,” explains Abreu.

 

Plant-based bioplastic packaging is fully traceable

 

According to Tetra Pak, the new bioplastic packaging is fully traceable to their sugarcane origin. “We see plant-based materials as playing a key role in achieving a low-carbon circular economy. In the future, all polymers we use will either be made from plant-based materials or from post-consumption recycled food grades,” states Abreu.

 

The use of plant-based materials such as bioplastics, instead of oil-based plastics, can help packaging manufacturers to lower their carbon emissions. These plant-based polymers are created from sustainable and renewable sources. They also help to support the agricultural sector in South Africa, especially local sugarcane plantations.

 

The sugarcane-based bioplastic is supplied to Tetra Pak by Braskem. “We have been working with Tetra Pak for more than 10 years, and Bonsucro Chain of Custody reinforces the Responsible Ethanol Sourcing Program from Braskem with the assurance and traceability of the entire sugarcane value chain, all the way back to the growers and mills,” explains Braskem renewable business leader Gustavo Sergi. 

 

Bioplastics are an emerging alternative to traditional plastics and are gaining popularity worldwide. Currently, the use of bioplastics is quite low and there are no established waste collection and recycling centres for these plant-based polymers. However, they can be recycled alongside their traditional counterparts – bioPET can be recycled with PET plastics. The more multinational companies that turn to bioplastics, the quicker these products will be refined and perfected.

___

 

Plastics SA represents all sectors of the South African plastics industry. ​Together with our associations, we play an active role in the growth and development of the industry and strive to address plastics related issues, influence role-players and make plastics the material of choice.

 

​Plastics SA has been mandated to ensure a vibrant and sustainable plastics industry in South Africa. The plastics sector is uniquely placed to meet the needs of a sustainable society and to deliver solutions to many challenges such as recycling, climate change, water scarcity, resource usage and energy recovery.

For more news, updates and information on the South African plastics industry, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn and Pinterest.

Bioplastics are not the same as biodegradable plastics

When it comes to plastic alternatives, there are two materials that consumers are likely to encounter; bioplastics and biodegradable plastics. These are separate products that are often confused. People think that bioplastics and biodegradable plastics are one and the same, but in reality, they are not.

Both of these materials are fairly new developments that are growing in popularity around the world, as well as in South Africa. They are both marketed as alternatives to traditional plastics and are used in similar applications. However, that is where the similarities end. The differences between bioplastics and biodegradable plastics are outlined below.

What are these materials made from?

Bioplastics are not just one single material but comprise of a whole family of materials with different properties and applications. “Bioplastics” refers to plastics made from plant or other

biological materials – it does not speak to the biodegradability or compostability of the

Product. Bioplastics are made from corn, sugar cane or starch. They have the same characteristics as oil-based plastics but are made from renewable sources.

Biodegradable plastics, on the other hand, are made from fossil fuels such as oil. In theory, they can be degraded by biological processes. However, many so-called biodegradable plastics do not decompose as intended in the natural environment. Biodegradable plastics are not always bio-based (made from plants) and bioplastics are not always biodegradable.

Why use bioplastics?

The main benefit of bioplastics is that they are made from naturally-occurring and renewable materials. They reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and oils which also helps to lower carbon emissions. Bioplastics can be made from genetically modified plants or from natural feedstock – neither of which are food sources for humans. These resources can be regrown every year, unlike oil and fossil fuels.

Another advantage of bioplastics over biodegradable plastics is that they can be recycled with conventional packaging waste. Bioplastics can be processed at a recycling facility in the same way as regular plastic, whereas biodegradable plastic must be separated from the waste stream and processed separately.

Bioplastics are perfectly suited to mechanical recycling. On the other hand, biodegradable plastics must be sent to an industrial composting facility where they can take up to three months to decompose. Manufacturing bioplastics is a fairly complicated process and quite an energy-intensive operation, but as the technology develops and further tests are completed, we could soon see plastic products being made from green resources.

___

Plastics SA represents all sectors of the South African plastics industry. ​Together with our associations, we play an active role in the growth and development of the industry and strive to address plastics related issues, influence role-players and make plastics the material of choice.

​Plastics SA has been mandated to ensure a vibrant and sustainable plastics industry in South Africa. The plastics sector is uniquely placed to meet the needs of a sustainable society and to deliver solutions to many challenges such as recycling, climate change, water scarcity, resource usage and energy recovery.

For more news, updates and information on the South African plastics industry, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn and Pinterest.