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Bioplastic Update

Bioplastic Update

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Published by Doris de Guzman
Update on bioplastic projects. Published November 21, 2011 on ICIS Chemical Business
Update on bioplastic projects. Published November 21, 2011 on ICIS Chemical Business

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Published by: Doris de Guzman on Aug 15, 2012
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www.icis.com28
|
 
ICIS Chemical Business
 
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November 21-December 4, 2011
FEATURESBIOPLASTICS
DORIS DE GUZMAN
NEW YORK 
 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&Talready use bioplastics in their products orpackaging. With supply chains building outand governments worldwide instituting poli-cies to encourage their use, more firms in theconsumer products sector are expected toadopt them.The immediate benefit to these companiesis a continuous improvement in their sustain-ability profile, notes Jim Lunt, managingdirector at US consulting firm Jim Lunt &Associates LLC.“This also translates into improved salesvolumes and increased market share,” he con-tinues. “Today, I do not believe this leads toincreased profits, although it could do so overtime,” he adds.Coca-Cola casted an influential vote of confidence in bioplastics with the launch inlate 2009 of its own
PlantBottle
packaging forseveral branded bottled products.
PlantBottle
 is chemically identical to the polyethyleneterephthalate (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) contributesthe remaining 70%.Coca-Cola’s Scott Vitters, general managerfor the
PlantBottle
Packaging platform, says thecompany already has the technology to pro-duce 100% bio-based PET, but the challenge isto make it commercially viable for people who buy billions of bottled beverages every day.Coca-Cola expects that it will have used a totalof 10bn bottles composed of 
PlantBottle
be-tween its launch and the end of this year, andthe company intends to use
PlantBottle
for allof its PET needs by 2020. Vitters also expectsfor Coca-Cola to have a commercial solution on100% plant-based PET by 2015–2016.“What we’ve been doing is building anefficient global supply chain for
PlantBottle
interms of ingredient sourcing,” he says. “Onlyone facility exists today for the bio-based com-ponent of 
PlantBottle,
but we expect that therewill be many more plants in the next coupleof years.” Coca-Cola currently ships the bio- based MEG to its PET producers worldwide.“Yes, there are premiums that Coca-Cola is
Bioplasticstretches further
Multinational brandowners increasingly use bioplastic despite costsand supply challenges
By 2020, Coca Cola’s PET bottles will all be renewable-based
 
www.icis.comNovember 21-December 4, 2011
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ICIS Chemical Business
 
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29
FEATURESBIOPLASTICS
paying today to be able to use the
PlantBottle,
 but that premium is largely the result of dutiesand taxes – not because the technology can’tcompete,” Vitters states. “As we are buildingour ingredient supply chain, we believe that itwill be cost-competitive or even better withtraditional PET in the near future.”He adds: “Part of the advantage of manufacturing
PlantBottle,
from a cost com-petitive point of view, is that most of our PETsupply value chain remains the same.”
COMPANIES CATCHING UP
Vitters notes the adoption of 
PlantBottle
 packaging by US food company H.J. Heinz aspart of Coca-Cola’s supply chain expansionplans. Heinz started using
PlantBottle
in all of its 20-ounce ketchup bottles in June.Vitters also points out two brand ownersthat recently announced the use of 30% byweight sugarcane-based PET – Japanese carmaker Toyota and US communications firmAT&T. Toyota said in Octo- ber that it is now using bio-PET plastic in theseat trim, floor carpetsand other interior sur-faces of its Sai gasoline-electric hybrid sedan being sold in Japan. Toy-ota has already beenusing the bio-PET inthe trunk lining of its Lexus CT modelslaunched in January.AT&T announced in September the use of  bio-PET in AT&T-branded wireless accesso-ries, which includes most device cases andpower accessories. Neither companydisclosed the name of its bio-PET supplier.In March, Coca-Cola’s top competitor,PepsiCo, announced its own plans to pro-duce a 100% bio-based bottle identical to itspetroleum-based PET beverage containers.PepsiCo developed the “green” bottle using biological and chemical processes, says Den-ise Lefebvre vice president, global beveragepackaging at PepsiCo.PepsiCo’s bottle, currently produced atlaboratory scale, uses biomass feedstock suchas switch grass, pine bark and corn husks.PepsiCo aims to have pilot production of thenew bottle in 2012 and upon its success, tomove directly to full-scale commercializa-tion, although no timeline was disclosed.The company’s goal is to also broaden thefeedstock resources to include orange peels,potato peels, oat hulls and other agricultural byproducts from PepsiCo’s food business,says Lefebvre.“PepsiCo is in a unique position toultimately source agricultural byproductsfrom our food business to manufacture a moreenvironmentally-preferred bottle for our bev-erage business. The ability to manufacture ourgreen bottle via a closed loop system is uniqueto PepsiCo,” she adds.PepsiCo believes its streamlined R&Dprocess will also help the company use the bottle at a price point acceptable toconsumers, notes Lefebvre.Bio-based PET is not PepsiCo’s first ventureinto bio-based packaging. US snack food sub-sidiary Frito-Lay began using polylactic acid(PLA) plastic produced by US-based Nature-Works for its
SunChips
brand packaging in2010. When consumers complained about thenoise produced by the new package, Frito-Layreformulated, and quieter 100% compostable
SunChips
bags were rolled out in February.Other brand owners currently usingNatureWorks’
Ingeo
PLA include yogurt firmsStonyfield Farm in the US and Danone in Ger-many; electronic equipment firms Canon andFujitsu; Japanese cosmetic firm Shiseido; andcar makers Mazda and Toyota. Steve Davies,NatureWorks’ global marketing director, saysdemand for
Ingeo
PLA has grown 20–30% an-nually for the past several years (see relatedstory on page 34).Coca-Cola also uses
Ingeo
PLA for thecoatings of its fountain drink paper cups.“We are looking at PLA for other potentialfilm and laminate applications within our business,” says Vitters. “We did a lot of initialwork on PLA, but from a beverage containerstandpoint, we decided to focus on PET asPLA has challenges not only in functionalityneeded for beverage containers – especiallyshelf life – but also in recyclinginfrastructure.”This year, Coca-Cola beganusing 100% bio-based high-den-sity polyethylene (HDPE) for its beverage bottles under the
Odwalla
brand. The sugar-cane-based HDPE is made byBrazilian chemical companyBraskem. Other companiesthat use Braskem’s sugar-cane-based polyethylene (PE)include Danone, Shiseido andUS consumer products companies Johnson & Johnson and Procter &Gamble. In August, Swiss compa-ny Nestle started using Braskem’s bio-based PE in bottle caps forNestle’s Brazilian milk brands
Ninho
and
Molico
.Nestle said it is currently involved in
 
usingthepetssur-
 
line-edan. Toy- beenin
“Bio-PET will be costcompetitive in the near futureas we build our supply chain”
SCOTT VITTERS
General manager, Coca-Cola
PlantBottle
packaging
over 30 projects to introduce bioplastics in itsproduct packaging portfolio worldwide.“In terms of growth, Braskem’s bio-PEseems to be the leader, as it is flying off theshelves and brands are eagerly adopting it intoexisting product lines,” says Andrew Soare,analyst at US consulting firm Lux Research.“When it comes to picking bioplastic mole-cules, brand owners have to be careful toavoid any unforeseen performance issues. It isimportant to note that performance trumps bio-content, and the
SunChips
issue is a greatexample of this when the noisy bags forcedsales down by 10% at that time,” he adds.
THE BIOPLASTIC CHALLENGE
Cost is also an issue when it comes to using bioplastic, says Lunt. He estimates the Coca-Cola
PlantBottle
to cost over 20% more thanconventional PET because of the cost of bio-MEG. “Braskem’s PE costs up to 30% morethan oil-based HDPE, but they do notapproach commodity markets,” he adds.Soare says Braskem is selling bio-PE intoniche markets, which are more suitable to thecompany’s relatively small capacity – at200,000 tonnes/year, only a sliver of the global100m tonne/year PE market.He adds: “In some cases, bioplasticpremiums can be passed on to the consumer,often for functional reasons. In other cases, aseemingly large premium is a negligible partof the overall cost of a product such as a $4coffee using a 3-cent bioplastic lid instead of a1-cent petroleum-based plastic lid.”Converters/compounders are also oftensqueezed when it comes to using bioplastics,says Lunt. “Between the brand owner and thematerial supplier, converters/compounders findit difficult to make money from these new bio-plastics. Initially, brand owners will pay premi-
Pepsi willstart pilotproductionof its greenbottles in2012

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