Coca-Cola, Danone, Ford, Heinz, Nestlé, Nike, P&G, Unilever and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) have formed a new organization to support the responsible development of plastics made from plant material and promote a more sustainable future for the bioplastics industry.
The Bioplastic Feedstock Alliance (BFA) will focus on guiding the responsible selection and harvesting of feedstocks — such as sugar cane, corn, bulrush and switchgrass — used to make plastics from agricultural materials.
The organization says that as the development of these renewable materials has grown, so has the opportunity to address their potential impacts on land use, food security and biodiversity. BFA intends to bring together leading experts from industry, academia and civil society to develop and support informed science, collaboration, education and innovation to help guide the evaluation and sustainable development of bioplastic feedstocks.
BFA points to the fact that consumers across the world increasingly are looking for more sustainable products such as those made from plant-based plastics. With increasing market demand for food and fiber in the coming decades, responsible sourcing of these materials is the key to enabling sustainable growth.
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"This alliance will go a long way in ensuring the responsible management of natural resources used to meet the growing demand for bioplastics," said WWF’s Erin Simon. "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."
The Alliance's eight founding companies, along with WWF, are supported by academic experts, supply chain partners, suppliers and technology development companies, all of whom are focusing on a variety of issues, challenges and possible tools within the growing bioplastic industry.
In related bioplastic news, last week BFA members Coke and Ford unveiled a Ford Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid research vehicle with interior fabrics made from Coke’s PlantBottle material covering the seat cushions, seat backs, head restraints, door panel inserts and headliners — the first time PlantBottle Technology has been applied beyond packaging. And Italian biotech firm Bio-on recently developed a bioplastic called PHA (Polyhydroxyalkanoate), made from agricultural processing waste materials, which is 100 percent biodegradable in water and soil and can be used as a substrate for electric circuits. When combined with suitable nanofillers, the polymer can act as an electricity conductor, with the potential of replacing plastics in most electronics.