The future of packaging
is bio-based and biodegradable

Author: Isabelle Kliger

The future of packaging is bio-based and biodegradable

In a world where fossil-based materials are increasingly being done away with in favour of greener solutions, the packaging industry has been quick to follow suit.

The demand for packaging is growing steadily thanks to urbanisation and rising stands of living. This development sets high demands on how we package our goods. The future packaging solutions need to be both bio-based and biodegradable.

“In the coming years, as oil becomes increasingly scarce, we will need to save our fossil fuels for the uses where it is the only alternative," says Mats Holti, Vice President of Technology & Innovations at Walki.

“Packaging doesn’t need be one of them. Instead, there’s good potential for us to switch to renewable and bio-based options."

According to a market report by European Bioplastics, the global market for bioplastics is set to grow by an estimated 20 per cent over the next five-year period. The transition to a low-carbon and circular economy, stronger policies supporting the growing bio-economy, and increased consumer awareness around sustainability issues are said to be driving this growth.

Gradual transition towards bio-based solutions

Today, the main types of bioplastics that can be found on the market are bio-based, non-biodegradable plastics. European Bioplastics says this variety currently accounts for about 56 per cent (1.2 million tonnes) of the global bioplastics production capacity. However, Mats Holti believes we can do better, arguing that Walki believes in a future in which bioplastics will be both bio-based and biodegradable.

“The only way to meet our global climate targets is by gradually transitioning to bio-based and preferably biodegradable materials," he continues.

At the present time, there are two main issues hampering the growth of sustainable polymers. The first is that the water vapour barrier offered by a biodegradable polymer is not as effective as the one delivered by Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE) material. The second issue is that bio-based, biodegradable packaging materials are considerably more expensive to produce than fossil-based polymers.

“There are other compromise options that are greener than fossil-based polymers," says Holti. “At the present time, bio-based, non-biodegradable plastics offer reduced carbon footprint and good performance at a fairly competitive price – but we believe in developing an option that has everything."

Bio-based and biodegradable

Walki®Seal Bio HB is a high-barrier coating that is bio-based, biodegradable and compostable, which also offers an effective oxygen barrier. The product is already available on the market and has been adopted by a number of Walki customers, in particular within the dry food packaging segment.“This is a product that we believe will take a greater and greater market share in the future. It’s already making an impact among customers who want to reduce the carbon footprint of their packaging materials – especially those interested in removing both fossil-based polymers and aluminium foil," Holti concludes.To find out more about Walki®Seal Bio HB and how it can be used in your business, please contact Mr. Heikki Lumme, heikki.lumme@walki.com or Mr. Matthias Zimmermann, matthias.zimmermann@walki.com.

* https://www.plasticstoday.com

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