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Consumer branded companies increase use of bioplstic

Consumer branded companies increase use of bioplstic

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  • 1. FEATURES BIOPLASTICS Multinational brandBioplastic owners increasingly use bioplastic despite costs and supply challengesstretches DORIS DE GUZMAN NEW YORKfurther B ioplastics are no longer a curiosity but a proven commodity. Multina- tionals brand owners such as Coca- Cola, Pepsico, Nestle, Danone, Ford, Toyota, Mazda, Procter & Gamble and AT&T already use bioplastics in their products or packaging. With supply chains building out and governments worldwide instituting poli- cies to encourage their use, more firms in the consumer products sector are expected to adopt them. The immediate benefit to these companies is a continuous improvement in their sustain- ability profile, notes Jim Lunt, managing director at US consulting firm Jim Lunt & Associates LLC. “This also translates into improved sales volumes and increased market share,” he con- tinues. “Today, I do not believe this leads to increased profits, although it could do so over time,” he adds. Coca-Cola casted an influential vote of confidence in bioplastics with the launch in late 2009 of its own PlantBottle packaging for several branded bottled products. PlantBottle is chemically identical to the polyethylene terephthalate (PET) used widely by the bot- tling industry, but the monoethylene glycol (MEG) that accounts for 30% of its mass is de- rived from sugarcane, rather than oil. Petrole- um-based terephthalic acid (TPA) contributes the remaining 70%. Coca-Cola’s Scott Vitters, general manager for the PlantBottle Packaging platform, says the company already has the technology to pro- duce 100% bio-based PET, but the challenge is to make it commercially viable for people who buy billions of bottled beverages every day. Coca-Cola expects that it will have used a total of 10bn bottles composed of PlantBottle be- tween its launch and the end of this year, and the company intends to use PlantBottle for all of its PET needs by 2020. Vitters also expects for Coca-Cola to have a commercial solution on 100% plant-based PET by 2015–2016. “What we’ve been doing is building an efficient global supply chain for PlantBottle in terms of ingredient sourcing,” he says. “Only one facility exists today for the bio-based com- ponent of PlantBottle, but we expect that there will be many more plants in the next couple of years.” Coca-Cola currently ships the bio- By 2020, Coca Cola’s PET bottles will all be renewable-based based MEG to its PET producers worldwide. “Yes, there are premiums that Coca-Cola is28 | ICIS Chemical Business | November 21-December 4, 2011
  • 2. FEATURES BIOPLASTICSpaying today to be able to use the PlantBottle, feedstock resources to include orange peels, over 30 projects to introduce bioplastics in itsbut that premium is largely the result of duties potato peels, oat hulls and other agricultural product packaging portfolio worldwide.and taxes – not because the technology can’t byproducts from PepsiCo’s food business, “In terms of growth, Braskem’s bio-PEcompete,” Vitters states. “As we are building says Lefebvre. seems to be the leader, as it is flying off theour ingredient supply chain, we believe that it “PepsiCo is in a unique position to shelves and brands are eagerly adopting it intowill be cost-competitive or even better with ultimately source agricultural byproducts existing product lines,” says Andrew Soare,traditional PET in the near future.” from our food business to manufacture a more analyst at US consulting firm Lux Research. He adds: “Part of the advantage of environmentally-preferred bottle for our bev- “When it comes to picking bioplastic mole-manufacturing PlantBottle, from a cost com- erage business. The ability to manufacture our cules, brand owners have to be careful topetitive point of view, is that most of our PET green bottle via a closed loop system is unique avoid any unforeseen performance issues. It issupply value chain remains the same.” to PepsiCo,” she adds. important to note that performance trumps PepsiCo believes its streamlined R&D bio-content, and the SunChips issue is a greatCOMPANIES CATCHING UP process will also help the company use the example of this when the noisy bags forcedVitters notes the adoption of PlantBottle bottle at a price point acceptable to sales down by 10% at that time,” he adds.packaging by US food company H.J. Heinz as consumers, notes Lefebvre.part of Coca-Cola’s supply chain expansion Bio-based PET is not PepsiCo’s first venture THE BIOPLASTIC CHALLENGEplans. Heinz started using PlantBottle in all of into bio-based packaging. US snack food sub- Cost is also an issue when it comes to usingits 20-ounce ketchup bottles in June. sidiary Frito-Lay began using polylactic acid bioplastic, says Lunt. He estimates the Coca- Vitters also points out two brand owners (PLA) plastic produced by US-based Nature- Cola PlantBottle to cost over 20% more thanthat recently announced the use of 30% by Works for its SunChips brand packaging in conventional PET because of the cost of bio-weight sugarcane-based PET – Japanese car 2010. When consumers complained about the MEG. “Braskem’s PE costs up to 30% moremaker Toyota and US communications firm noise produced by the new package, Frito-Lay than oil-based HDPE, but they do not d OctoAT&T. Toyota said in Octo- reformulated, and quieter 100% compostable approach commodity markets,” he adds.ber that it is now using SunChips bags were rolled out in February. Soare says Braskem is selling bio-PE into nbio-PET plastic in the Other brand owners currently using niche markets, which are more suitable to the rpetsseat trim, floor carpets NatureWorks’ Ingeo PLA include yogurt firms company’s relatively small capacity – atand other interior sur- r Stonyfield Farm in the US and Danone in Ger- 200,000 tonnes/year, only a sliver of the global line-faces of its Sai gasoline- many; electronic equipment firms Canon and 100m tonne/year PE market.electric hybrid sedanedan Fujitsu; Japanese cosmetic firm Shiseido; and He adds: “In some cases, bioplastic n.being sold in Japan. Toy- car makers Mazda and Toyota. Steve Davies, premiums can be passed on to the consumer,ota has already been NatureWorks’ global marketing director, says often for functional reasons. In other cases, ausing the bio-PET inT demand for Ingeo PLA has grown 20–30% an- seemingly large premium is a negligible part nually for the past several years (see related of the overall cost of a product such as a $4“Bio-PET will be cost story on page 34). coffee using a 3-cent bioplastic lid instead of a Coca-Cola also uses Ingeo PLA for the 1-cent petroleum-based plastic lid.”competitive in the near future coatings of its fountain drink paper cups. Converters/compounders are also oftenas we build our supply chain” “We are looking at PLA for other potential squeezed when it comes to using bioplastics,SCOTT VITTERS film and laminate applications within our says Lunt. “Between the brand owner and theGeneral manager, Coca-Cola PlantBottle packaging business,” says Vitters. “We did a lot of initial material supplier, converters/compounders find work on PLA, but from a beverage container it difficult to make money from these new bio- standpoint, we decided to focus on PET as plastics. Initially, brand owners will pay premi-the trunk lining of its Lexus CT models PLA has challenges not only in functionalitylaunched in January. needed for beverage containers – especially AT&T announced in September the use of shelf life – but also in recyclingbio-PET in AT&T-branded wireless accesso- infrastructure.”ries, which includes most device cases and This year, Coca-Cola beganpower accessories. Neither company using 100% bio-based high-den-disclosed the name of its bio-PET supplier. sity polyethylene (HDPE) for its In March, Coca-Cola’s top competitor, beverage bottles under thePepsiCo, announced its own plans to pro- Odwalla brand. The sugar- Pepsi willduce a 100% bio-based bottle identical to its cane-based HDPE is made by start pilotpetroleum-based PET beverage containers. Brazilian chemical company productionPepsiCo developed the “green” bottle using Braskem. Other companies of its greenbiological and chemical processes, says Den- that use Braskem’s sugar- bottles inise Lefebvre vice president, global beverage cane-based polyethylene (PE) 2012packaging at PepsiCo. include Danone, Shiseido and PepsiCo’s bottle, currently produced at US consumer products companieslaboratory scale, uses biomass feedstock such Johnson & Johnson and Procter &as switch grass, pine bark and corn husks. Gamble. In August, Swiss compa-PepsiCo aims to have pilot production of the ny Nestle started using Braskem’snew bottle in 2012 and upon its success, to bio-based PE in bottle caps formove directly to full-scale commercializa- Nestle’s Brazilian milk brandstion, although no timeline was disclosed. Ninho and Molico.The company’s goal is to also broaden the Nestle said it is currently involved November 21-December 4, 2011 | ICIS Chemical Business | 29
  • 3. FEATURES BIOPLASTICSums as high as 30% if they know this will come bioplastic because the use of these materials think that you can grow a renewable programdown with volume. Brand owners will not pay offer several potential benefits, says Jeff based off of materials that not only will com-more over the longer term unless they can Wooster, Dow’s global sustainability lead- pete with food but also with agriculture land,pass on the cost or significantly increase rease er in performance plastics. which is an even more important focus for us,”their market share against competitors itors “ “If a bioplastic offers meaningful en- says Vitters.and so drive volume,” he adds. vir vironmental benefits and improved per- He muses: “Given the importance of sugar- for formance in use, then it may certainly cane in our products, the quickest way for meCOST CUTTING co command a premium in the market- to lose my job is to run the sugar prices up.”Bioplastic suppliers have been en p place. Drop-in replacements that min- The most promising and plentiful biomassannouncing capacity increases to o imize capital investment across the sources today, says Lunt, are lignocellulosicsdrive costs down. NatureWorks is value chain are in particularly high from food crop waste and from wood pulp. “Iplanning to build in Thailand its demand,” he adds. believe it will be at least two to three years be-second PLA plant, scheduled to Another issue that needs to be fore we see truly commercial plants convert-start in 2015. Braskem is planning addressed is sustainable feedstock ing biomass to a range of chemical intermedi-a second Green PE plant in Brazil supply says Coca-Cola’s Vitters. ates which can be converted to differentwith a capacity of around 400,000 Coca-Cola says it spent a year look- bioplastics,” he adds.tonnes, to start in 2014 or 2015. ing at sustainable feedstock options Lunt is organizing a one day workshop This year, US-based Dow before launching PlantBottle, and entitled “The Future for Bioplastics Feed-Chemical has partnered with Japan it is continually looking at biomass stocks” to be held in February 2012 in Florida,chemical firm Mitsui to produce feedstock options such as wood at which he expects experts from firms in-green PE in Brazil. The 350,000 waste, stover and bagasse. cluding Coca-Cola, NatureWorks and foot- stonne/year plant, in Minas Gerais, is “For our initial step, we decided to wear company Nike to address the question:expected to start in 2015. It will be use Brazilian sugarcane and [or] mo- When will brand owners be able to use bio-vertically integrated with a 240m lasses that could provide a sustaina- mass products instead of food use materials toliter/year sugarcane ethanol plant ble starting point that would not make bioplastics?that will start in 2013. Brand compete with food streams [and For the latest sustainability initiatives readowners are eager to provide con- which would] deliver better envi- Doris de Guzman’s Green Chemicals blogsumers with packaging made from ronmental performance. We do not Get a clearer understanding of the petrochemical industry from ICIS training “The course includedmy mucham purchasing on petrochemicals. In so job I information petrochemicals and now I understand more deeply what is going on behind. If you know what is going on behind, you feel so much more powerful in negotiations. Therefore coming to ICIS training courses help you understand the fundamentals of the petrochemical industry - from what this course will really help me in my job. ” Procurement Manager in a drives petrochemical prices to how the conversion industry specialty chemicals company functions. Our training will help you gain the expertise you need to operate effectively in this complex market. To find out more about ICIS petrochemical training courses, visit | ICIS Chemical Business | November 21-December 4, 2011