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Bio-based plastic – an alternative to packaging industry

 Tuesday, August 30, 2022

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Packaging materials are forever in great demand and plastic packaging brands are expected to be on top of things, choosing packaging with many factors – safety, recyclability, functionality, and product appeal – in mind.

Sustainability is one of the most cited factors in the concept of changing to bioplastics.

  1. A fossil-free alternative
    The use of plastic is associated with many problems, like the release of fossil carbon dioxide into the atmosphere at its end-of-life. One of the largest bulk plastics worldwide, traditional polyethylene terephthalate (PET), contains fossil-based terephthalic acid (PTA). Switching to its bio-based alternative polyethylene furandicarboxylate (PEF), which uses furandicarboxylic acid (FDCA) from plants instead of PTA from oil, could bring about significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.
  2. Superior properties and behaviour
    Not only is PEF the right choice for moving away from fossil resources, it also comes with quality properties for packaging purposes. For example, PEF has high heat resistance – making it attractive for hot-fill purposes, as well as re-use through industrial washing and refill.

Furthermore, PEF has great gas barrier properties for oxygen, carbon dioxide and water vapour – enabling mono-material packaging and an extended shelf life of products. Using a single material instead of combinations can also save in costs and enable or simplify recycling.

“If you look at the cost of the total package and the features needed for shelf life, shape, or recyclability, using a single material serving all those purposes provides great benefit, says Dirk den Ouden, VP Emerging Business, Division Biomaterials at Stora Enso.”

Stora Enso has been developing a breakthrough technology, FuraCore, to produce FDCA in a cost-effective way at scale, laying the foundation for a plastic that makes sense.

  1. Fit with the circular economy
    PEF is made from crops that grow back – laying the foundation for sustainable and circular packaging. It is also fully recyclable – just as traditional PET packaging.
  2. Novelty value and brand appeal – sustainable solutions help brands to differentiate

Differentiation is an important element in the packaging landscape. By associating unique characteristics with their products, brand owners create recognition and authority within their niches, leading to better sales as visibility and credibility increase.

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