Eight of the world's leading consumer brand companies and conservation group World Wildlife Fund (WWF) announced November 19 the formation of the Bioplastic Feedstock Alliance (BFA) to support the responsible development of plastics made from plant material, helping build a more sustainable future for the bioplastics industry.
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. 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 across the world increasingly are looking for more sustainable products, including those made from plant-based plastics. With increasing market demand for food and fiber in the coming decades, responsible sourcing of these materials is the 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," says 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."
The Alliance's eight founding companies, along with WWF, are supported by academic experts; supply chain partners; suppliers; and technology development companies, all of whom are focusing on a variety of issues, challenges, and possible tools within the growing bioplastic industry.
"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," says Anne Roulin, Nestlé's global research and development sustainability manager.
Already, bioplastics made from sugar cane and other plant-based materials are used in Nestlé's product portfolio. Since early 2012, for example, several sizes of VITTEL bottled water have been packaged in an innovative PET bottle made from 30% plant-based material.
Nestlé is particularly interested in second generation bioplastics, made, for example, from the by-products of forestry, agriculture or the food chain - such as molasses or cane residue - or non-food sources such as algae, cellulose and waste products.