Because the food and beverage industry is a major contributor of waste generated around the globe, leading companies are stepping up their green procurement efforts by forming a partnership to support the bioplastics industry. Large corporations are teaming up with the Wood Wildlife Fund (WWF) to form the Bioplastic Feedstock Alliance (BFA) to increase the development and use of plant-based plastics, Packaging Digest reported. This alliance includes top food and beverage producers, including Coca-Cola, Heinz and Nestle.
"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," said Anne Roulin, Nestle's global research and development sustainability manager.
In 2011, 32 million tons of plastic were thrown away in landfills, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Much of this plastic waste is in the form of containers and packaging - including disposable plastic for food products - which account for 14 million tons of U.S. waste.
Plant-based materials, such as those made from corn and grass, have long been touted as greener alternatives to conventional fuels and feedstocks. Plastics like polyethylene are usually made from petroleum-based feedstocks, and for the most part, they are not recycled, according to the EPA.
Reducing plastic waste with bioplastics
Out of the millions of tons of plastic waste created in 2011, only 8 percent of it was actually recycled. With this low recycling rate for regular plastics, bioplastics generated from plants are considered by those in the alliance to be more eco-friendly. Bioplastics have less of an impact on the environment not only from sourcing but also in the event they are thrown away since bioplastics can be manufactured to be biodegradable instead of remaining in landfills.
BFA aims to help companies transition to use bioplastics to replace typical plastics for packaging and other material. As consumers look for eco-friendly goods, companies may have to turn to sustainable sourcing in order to remain competitive with increasing demand for these type of products.
"This alliance will go a long way in ensuring the responsible management of natural resources used to meet the growing demand for bioplastics," said 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."