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Demand For Greener Packaging Expected To Drive Growth In Bioplastics

October 18, 2010: 02:36 AM EST

A growing demand for environment-friendly packaging and products is expected to drive the world’s bioplastics industry to grow 30% a year in the coming decade, although plastics made from plant material currently represents just 0.2% of all plastic consumed each year . Biomass is used to replace petroleum products in the manufacture of plastics, reducing demand for fossil fuels and improving biodegradability. Some chemical companies, such as BASF in Germany, are expanding bioplastics capacity to meet the expected demand from consumer goods manufacturers like Procter & Gamble Co. and Johnson & Johnson Inc., both of which have switched to plant-based resins for packaging some of their brands. Coca-Cola and PepsiCo are also exploring applications for bioplastics. While environmentalists in general support renewable energy initiatives, they have some reservations about biodegradable plastics, which still go into landfill. Bioplastics are also generally still more expensive than traditional plastics, and the chemical companies are relying on some consumers being willing to pay more for greener options. A return to very high oil prices will also make bioplastics more competitive.

MARA LEMOS STEIN and NAUREEN S. MALIK , "Just One Word: Bioplastics ", Wall Street Journal, October 18, 2010, © Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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