|Green plastics packaging is taking bigger strides. In 2008, USA alone consumed about 385,000 tons of green packaging comprising recycled, reusable and biodegradable packaging as per Pira Intl. Growth of green packaging is projected to increase at about 3.4% until 2013 to reach 450,000 tons by 2013. The fastest gains are anticipated for biodegradable plastic packaging and plastic recycled content packaging. Biodegradable plastic packaging is anticipated to grow by 13% pa through 2013. Price competitiveness with conventional plastic film would be a key deciding factor for its growth. Better grades of biodegradable polymers would be the other factor for its high growth. Recycled content packaging demand is expected to increase in line with the overall green packaging average. Concerted efforts to collect higher volumes would contribute to growth of recycled packaging. Gains will be moderated by slow growth for paper recycled content packaging, which is dominated by the large but mature corrugated and paperboard box segment. Reusable packaging is forecast to expand more slowly, held back by marginal growth for drums, which face competition from larger formats such as intermediate bulk containers (IBCs). Reusable plastic containers, IBCs and other reusable packaging types would contribute higher growth in the overall growth of green packaging. It is estimated that biodegradable packaging quantified at over 42,000 metric tons in 2006, will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 22%, to reach nearly 116,000 metric tons in 2011. Other insights include the following:
� Cutting-edge technologies include the introduction of lower-cost polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) biodegradable polymers that could compete with standard thermoplastics and other biodegradable polymers by 2011. These would fit more demanding rigid and flexible packaging applications that require high barrier protection.
� The majority of biodegradable packaging consumption in 2006 was in the fresh-food sector at 41%, followed by foodservice and other food.
� Foodservice is expected to be the highest growth sector for biodegradable packaging at 24% CAGR, followed by nonfood and fresh food.
� Fresh food is the biggest end-use sector for biodegradable packaging, accounting for nearly 18,000 metric tons in 2006. Polylactic acid (PLA) is the most widely used biodegradable polymer for fresh-food applications, with 39% of total consumption in 2006. Starch-based polymers account for 36% of market volumes.
� PLA currently holds approximately 43% of the market. This share is expected to grow, with consumption forecast at more than 50,000 metric tons in 2011.
� Western Europe is the leading consumer of biodegradable packaging. The markets in Asia Pacific and Eastern Europe have been growing but are relatively underdeveloped at present.
� USA is the largest single market for biodegradable packaging, and this is expected to continue to 2011, where the market is estimated at more than 44,000 metric tons.
As per a study by Freedonia, US demand for green packaging is estimated to increase 3.4% pa to US$43.9 bln in 2013, using 59 billion lbs of material. Growth for green packaging, which consists of recycled content, biodegradable, and reusable packaging, will outpace overall packaging but will remain modest due to the maturity of many products and the fact that recycled content packaging has a large existing presence in paperboard and metal packaging. The fastest gains should come from biodegradable plastic packaging and plastic recycled content packaging. Biodegradable plastic packaging should climb nearly 13% pa through 2013, driven by increased price competitiveness with conventional resins, rapidly expanding capacity and lower pricing volatility than petroleum-based plastic packaging materials. Additional stimulants to the market include enhanced performance properties brought about by more sophisticated polymerizaton and blending techniques; efforts by brand owners to improve the environmental footprint of their packaging; and legislative bans on polystyrene foam foodservice disposables in some parts of the country. While recycled content packaging demand should increase in line with the overall green packaging average, robust growth for plastic recycled content packaging will gain help with a more concerted effort to boost collection volume, an increased focus on the development of food-contact approved resin grades, and further sustainability initiatives by plastic processors and brand owners. Gains will moderate by slow growth for paper recycled content packaging, dominated by the large but mature corrugated and paperboard box segment. Reusable packaging should expand more slowly, held back by marginal growth for drums, which face competition from larger formats such as intermediate bulk containers. More favorable prospects look positive for reusable plastic containers, intermediate bulk containers, and other reusable packaging types. In general, value gains will decelerate sharply from the 2003-2008 pace due to an expected moderation in raw material prices, especially for plastic and steel. The relatively long service life of most reusable packaging also limits the need for replacements, a factor that restricts growth in demand for new units.