Biobased packaging was born as a response to new consumer and governmental demands for sustainable packaging options.
As the packaging industry moves towards minimizing its impact on the environment, new bio-based plastic packaging solutions emerge continuously providing increasingly efficient possibilities for protection and sustainability.
Want to learn about the main biobased packaging trends today and where the industry is headed? At Knauf Appliances we’ve summarized some key takeaways in this sector. Keep reading to find out about them.
What is biobased packaging?
Biobased packaging is packaging made from biobased materials. These are defined as those materials derived from biological sources instead of petroleum (fossil fuel) sources.
As such, biobased packaging refers to the origin or source of materials, pointing towards the first steps of a packaging solution’s full life cycle.
Biobased packaging solutions made from paper or wood sources have been around for decades. However, growing research and implementations around these solutions have managed to generate new, more efficient materials that increase a product’s protection
Biobased packaging is thus part of the increasing number of possibilities regarding sustainable packaging, a market that is expected to register a CAGR of 7.55% during 2022-2027, according to Mordor Intelligence.
Want to learn more about biobased packaging and other current options for protective packaging? Don´t hesitate to contact us and find the answers to your inquiries.
What are the different types of biobased packaging?
- Based on natural fibers: these include paper and cardboard packaging materials but also bamboo, coconut fibers or banana leaves, as well as waste from the agricultural industry.
- Bio based plastic: although traditional plastics use fossil fuel as a source, new innovative solutions use alternatives such as corn, sugar cane or sugar beets, among others. Bio based plastic packaging includes materials such as PLA, bio-PE, Bio-PET, PBA, cellophane or natural rubber. NEOPS®, Knauf’s new innovative bioplastic, is also included in this category.
What are the benefits of bio based plastic packaging?
- Contribute to reducing fossil fuel dependency
- Reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Most biobased packaging solutions produce less and cleaner emissions during their manufacturing processes. This is amplified when they’re incorporated into circular economy models.
- Increase resource efficiency. In fact, some modern biobased plastic packaging solutions present both similar or superior protection capabilities compared to traditional polymers. This includes protection against transportation and environmental harm. This in turn, reduces the need for additional transportation and energy consumption related to products harmed during the distribution cycle. Appropriate biobased packaging solutions for the food industry can also help extend product shelf life.
You might also be interested in: Sustainable packaging solutions of vegetal plastic
What are the current biobased packaging trends in 2022?
- Developing new mono-materials and biopolymers, generating innovative solutions that increase protection and transportation efficiency. Sustainability improvements are geared towards the end-of-life phase: in 2022, products need to present an easy and sustainable recycling process, be degradable or present other alternatives to minimize waste.
- Devising new ways to incorporate recycled materials into biobased packaging
- Technology-driven innovations include more sustainable labelling techniques (which eliminate the use of plastic sleeves); or digital watermarks or Near Field Communication for facilitating recycling processes.
Ways of recycling bio based plastic packaging
Not all bio based plastic packaging is easily recycled: it must be designed so that it’s compatible with current recycling technologies and structures.
At the same time, different processes are able to recycle this type of material. Crushing and compacting bio based plastic materials are two of the most common recycling operations, mimicking the process of expanded polystyrene recycling.
This and other homogeneous thermoplastic materials are liquidized by heat and hardened by cooling, meaning their recycling processes can be repeated indefinitely.
Biobased packaging is easily degradable
The capacity of biobased packaging to degrade after its use greatly depends on each material’s characteristics. However, there are two possibilities for degrading packaging waste:
- Biodegradation involves some materials’ capacity to decompose in simpler chemical elements under the action of certain microorganisms and climatic conditions. PLA, PHA and cellulose-related biobased packaging materials are some of the biodegradable options.
- Certain biobased packaging materials are degradable under other conditions. For instance, bio based plastic packaging that is similar to EPS can be degraded using heat, turning it into a means of generating energy in so-called “heat recovery” operations.
This turns some of these materials into even more sustainable options, as it is estimated that replacing coal with plastic waste “heat recovery” would lower greenhouse gas emissions by one quarter and would reduce coal imports required in Europe by 15%.
New innovative materials for biobased packaging
NEOPS® is Knauf’s new patented biobased plastic material, made out of renewable resources and plant-based biomass.
A mono-material that is made out of 98% air and easily recyclable, it works as a sustainable alternative to EPS but provides the same technical characteristics including a high mechanical resistance and a big capacity for shock absorption.
Additionally, its carbon footprint is 30% inferior to conventional EPS and presents the REDcert certificate for new sustainable biomass products.
Circular bioeconomy for bio based plastic packaging
Bio based plastic packaging materials can be made part of circular economy models as long as the right infrastructures are put into place.
Such is the case of Knauf Circular®, enforced to guarantee EPS, waste is recycled and recovered in order to give it a new life.
Through this program, we provide on-site waste collection. Waste is then moved to our recycling plants, where it’s crushed and recycled or compacted and then sent to other plants that partner with us to finish the process.
Flexible bio based plastic packaging applications
Flexible bio based plastic packaging materials are increasingly demanded for various applications.
In fact, Mordor Intelligence cites a 45% increase in demand for flexible material options, which are then applied in packaging solutions for food, beverages, pharmaceuticals or healthcare products, among others.