Sustainable Packaging Symposium 2014 (SPS '14)

Innovation and New Economics for Biopolymers
November 19-21, 2014

The symposium focused on new economics, which reflect the impact of processes on natural resources, and investigated development, consumer attitudes, and venture capital interest in new biopolymers.

Symposium Description

The demand for bio-based chemicals is prompted by economic drivers as well as end users' interest for green materials. For specific applications, such as packaging, the pull from the green market combined with recent technology breakthroughs in processing and conversions indicate that bio-based feedstocks are viable and sustainable, and are here to stay, even in the current context of a glut of natural gas.  This program explored the recent innovations in technology and approaches of economic assessment in the context of natural capital concepts that are the basis for biopolymers sustainability in the packaging supply chain.

This symposium explored the current market and technology drivers with the specific feedstocks for packaging using bio-based replacements for petroleum feedstocks.   Additionally, the role of partnerships and joint ventures set up between owners of agricultural resources (feedstocks), technology providers, chemicals manufacturers, and consumer brand companies provide a complete value chain.   However, with the uncertain global economy, the conditions and technology breakthroughs needed to ensure bio-based feedstocks be sustainable in the long term was also examined.

Key items that were illustrated and explored in the sessions:

  • Polyethylene and Polypropylene account for some 70% of all packaging materials currently used worldwide and companies are making breakthroughs on bio-based feedstocks

    • Braskem is using ethanol-based ethylene to make polyethylene and polypropylene

    • SABIC is making ethylene, propylene, polyethylene from waste fats and oils

  • PET accounts for 18% of packaging worldwide

    • Coca Cola is using partially renewable based PET and is targeting full renewable-based PET

    • Renewable Ethylene Glycol is being used as the bio-renewable component of partially bio-based PET

    • Raw Materials (paraxylene) for bio-based terephthalic acid are being developed and are in pilot stage

  • Solvay Indupa is making ethanol-based ethylene for PVC (Solvay Indupa was recently acquired by Braskem)

  • Large consumer companies are making the move to bio feedstock based packaging and are part of the Bioplastic Feedstock Alliance.  Polyethylene from ethanol is being used in Pantene shampoo bottles.  Big companies which are members of the Bioplastic Feedstock Alliance are driving sustainable solutions and associating their brands with such efforts.

    • How much packaging is being made from renewable resources?  What is its expected growth and future impact?

    • What are the factors influencing the resulting biopolymers use and what is the impact on the overall supplies?

    • How will the use of these plastics affect market share?