Alliance eyes bioplastics sustainability

By Jim Johnson
Senior Staff Reporter

Published: December 5, 2013 3:01 pm ET
Updated: December 5, 2013 3:06 pm ET

Image By: Coca-Cola Co. Scott Vitters, general manager of Coca-Cola Co.'s PlantBottle program

Related to this story

Topics Sustainability, Packaging
Companies & Associations Coca-Cola Co.

A well-known conservation group, along with some of the most famous companies in the world, wants to have a say in how the bioplastics industry develops in the years ahead.

With the creation of the new Bioplastic Feedstock Alliance, the World Wildlife Federation and eight companies are looking to have input and drive sustainable development of the industry.

The new alliance aims to address the sustainable development of bioplastics made from feedstocks such as sugar cane, corn, bulrush and switchgrass.

Issues such as food security, land use and resource competition all will be addressed by the group that includes Ford, Nike, Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola, Danone, Heinz, Unilever and Nestle.

“We’ve got a bit of work in front of us until we can establish what our role in the industry is going to be. But I’m really excited to see all these companies come together and change the way they work tackling some of these more difficult issues,” said Erin Simon, manager in business and industry for packaging and material science at WWF.

“You have some of these hot-button issues that exist right now,” she said.

Protecting resources while promoting sustainable development of the bioplastics industry is important to the WWF, Simon said.

“We’re at the beginning of the growth of this industry and there’s potential to scale that positive change in a way that would truly impact the areas that we care about the most,” Simon said.

“For WWF, that clearly was valuable to our mission because we seek to protect those ecosystems that are valuable and are very unique in biodiversity. And a lot of those ecosystems are where major commodities are sources from, including agricultural and forestry products,” Simon said.

Coca-Cola sees the alliance as a way to work with other companies in a “pre-competitive space to be able to advance innovative sustainability,” said Scott Vitters, general manager of the company’s PlantBottle program.

That program, since 2009, has produced 18 billion PET bottles partially made from plants.

“In many cases this is a new and emerging area. So how we bring the best minds together to be evaluating and looking at how we advance this space is a key part,” he said about formation of the alliance.

“It’s in all of our interests in terms of making sure that we’ve got clarity around the environmental and social performance of plant material,” Vitters said. “It makes all of us better to be working together and to be assessing in terms of that performance, collaboratively.”

A short-term goal, Simon said, “is to put some sound science beyond some of these issues, establish some decision-making processes and key research for these brands who are asking these questions now so they have that information as they invest in new solutions for the future.”

A long-term goal from WWF’s perspective, Simon said, “is to enable and inspire” change. “We’re at the beginning of the growth of this industry and there is potential to scale that positive change in a way that would truly impact the areas that we truly care about the most. So have these companies be leaders in their industry, setting a bar for how to produce bioplastics.”

Vitters said the public has an expectation for companies to work together to advance breakthrough technologies that make a difference for the planet. “This is a really good space for all of us to be working together to ensure that we’re advancing it in a way that delivers the promise that bioplastics can offer,” he said.

Kirk Glaze, director of community relations for Coca-Cola North America Group, had this to say in an email interview:

“A key focus for us is sustaining public trust by working to achieve continued transparency on the environmental and social performance of bioplastic materials.

“This is a rapidly evolving innovation space that offers a tremendous amount of promise but at times can be complex to understand. This is why we are so focused on collaborative partnerships to share learnings and other efforts to educate stakeholders on advances being made in bioplastic,” he said.


Comments

Alliance eyes bioplastics sustainability

By Jim Johnson
Senior Staff Reporter

Published: December 5, 2013 3:01 pm ET
Updated: December 5, 2013 3:06 pm ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story


More stories

Image

Pactiv expanding in North Carolina

March 5, 2015 4:18 pm ET

Pactiv LLC is spending more than $24 million on an expansion project in North Carolina that will create 59 new jobs.    More

Image

LiquiForm looks to fundamentally change blow molding process for bottles

March 5, 2015 12:13 pm ET

Those in the know are lifting the veil, just a bit, on fledgling technology being developed that would fundamentally change the way plastic bottles...    More

Image

VisiPak adds to customer mix, product offerings with Tulox acquisition

March 5, 2015 2:19 pm ET

VisiPak has acquired Tulox Plastics Corp., a maker of clear plastic packaging.    More

Image

Bigger doors, windows gain appeal

March 5, 2015 11:43 am ET

Door and window manufacturers are continuing to super-size product lines to make a grander first impression at main entrances and to expand vista...    More

Image

Southeastern Container closing plant as Coke shifts bottle production

March 5, 2015 11:07 am ET

About 50 people will lose their jobs at a PET bottle making facility in Effingham, Ill., as container manufacturing shifts to Coca-Cola bottling plant...    More

Market Reports

Flexible Packaging Trends in North America

North America represents about 30 percent of the global consumption of flexible packaging. Annual growth in this region is forecast at 4 percent during the next 5 years.

For more insight on growth opportunities, drivers of growth and the outlook for 2015, download this report.

Learn more

Plastics Recycling Trends in North America

This report is a review and analysis of the North American Plastics Recycling Industry, including key trends and statistics based on 2013 performance. We examine market environment factors, regulatory issues, industry challenges, key drivers and emerging trends in post-consumer and post-industrial recycling.

Learn more

Plastics in Mexico - State of the Industry Report

This report analyzes the $20 billion plastics industry in Mexico including sales of machinery & equipment, resins and finished products.

Our analysts provide insight on business trends, foreign investment, top end markets and plastics processing activity. The report also provides important data on exports, production, employment and value of plastics products manufactured.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

June 2, 2015 - June 3, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - Chicago 2015

September 16, 2015 - September 18, 2015Plastics Caps & Closures - September 2015

More Events