Beverage packaging in compostable bottles saw a 150% rise in global sales this year over last years levels. 10 mln litres of beverages were packaged in compostable bottles last year, representing a retail market value of €23 mln as per a report by Zenith International.
In response to estimates that consumer demand and recycling regulations will drive up demand for environmentally-friendly packaging, packaging suppliers have been introducing various forms of biodegradable plastics made from plants, mainly corn, over the past five years.
The low uptake despite strong growth, indicates that the global beverage industry has yet to embrace bioplastics. Bioplastics, such as polylactic acid (PLA), have been readily incorporated into compost bags, catering products, supermarket shopping bags and increasingly food packaging, but find limited application in beverage packaging due to several challenges. Recycled PET is also gaining momentum as a more sustainable alternative to regular PET. The beverage industry is at risk of falling behind other food applications for biopackaging unless there is more government support. The Zenith report fond that
more government and municipal programmes need to be designed to separate bioplastics from existing polyethylene terephthalate (PET) recycling and waste management processes.
Nevertheless, companies continue to experiment with compostable packaging. Zenith projects that volumes will multiply fivefold in Western Europe and North America to 135 million litres by 2011. With the development of improved infrastructure and economies of scale, the figure could be massively higher.