Executive Briefings

Industry's Interest in Sustainable Packaging Undermined by High Cost of Bioplastics

There has been accelerating interest from industry in developing sustainable packaging and reducing reliance on petroleum.  The environmental benefits of replacing petroleum products with bio-based substitutes are clear: they could sequester carbon dioxide, put less burden on landfills and, in some cases, even break down faster. But, bioplastics currently make up less than one percent of the U.S. plastics market. So, while the industry is excited about the potential, there are practical challenges yet to address.

That is in part because developing and commercializing bioplastics present a host of difficult challenges.  The chief obstacle facing the industry is petroleum's price advantage - it is often much cheaper to make plastic from petroleum.  In order for bioplastics to become the norm, the price of their manufacture needs to come down substantially.

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There has been accelerating interest from industry in developing sustainable packaging and reducing reliance on petroleum.  The environmental benefits of replacing petroleum products with bio-based substitutes are clear: they could sequester carbon dioxide, put less burden on landfills and, in some cases, even break down faster. But, bioplastics currently make up less than one percent of the U.S. plastics market. So, while the industry is excited about the potential, there are practical challenges yet to address.

That is in part because developing and commercializing bioplastics present a host of difficult challenges.  The chief obstacle facing the industry is petroleum's price advantage - it is often much cheaper to make plastic from petroleum.  In order for bioplastics to become the norm, the price of their manufacture needs to come down substantially.

Read Full Article