Is this the time for sustainable packaging?
The pandemic has made consumers even more sensitive to sustainability issues. Not only in terms of ingredients but also of packaging. Proposing an "eco-friendly" package can be a competitive differentiation factor. But untangling regulations and characteristics is not easy. Let's try to clarify.
First of all, 'biodegradable" and "compostable" are not the same thing. "Biodegradable" means a material that is broken down by microorganisms into simple substances such as water, carbon dioxide and methane. In the case of a "compostable" material, micro-organisms turn it into an organic compound - "compost" - which is, in essence, "manure". Definitions, degradation times and biochemical characteristics are governed by regulations and standards. For food and beverage packaging, of course, all food packaging regulationsmust also be complied with.
An ace in your sleeve to attract new customers
Many studies confirm that different consumers - especially Millennials and Gen Z - are ready to pay a premium price for a more sustainable food product. According to a 2020 research by DNV GL, 38% of global consumers consider environmental aspects when purchasing and 35% also consider social aspects. Packaging (68%) is the most considered aspect of sustainability, ahead of ingredients (58%). For half of consumers (49%), packaging is also the main source of product information: more than websites (31%) or social media (24%).
What you need to know (and do)
First of all, you need to familiarise yourself with regulations, standards and certifications. In addition, select reliable suppliers through reference sources and engage with peers at events and meetings to exchange information and knowledge.
· EU regulations They are considered a reference across the world. It is a great idea to apply them wherever you may decide to produce or sell: here an overview and here a focus on materials.
· Trade associations They help to inform and educate, as well as being an additional guarantee when choosing a supplier. For example, Assobioplastiche in Italy or BBIA in the UK.
· Certifications and standards The most widely used certification for compostable products is OK Compost. The reference standard is EN 13432:2000.
· Events and Fairs An important event for innovation in Meat and Ready Meal packaging is MEAT-TECH, which this year will be held in conjunction with TUTTOFOOD and HostMilano.
Recycling of bio-packaging in Italy
National Consortium for the organic recycling of biodegradable and compostable plastic packaging:
International standards on manufacturers' liability for packaging (EPR):
Associations of Reference
List of associations of bioplastics manufacturers in different countries:
Information and insights from the European Environmental Agency (EEA):
References in North America
Information and insights from the US Environmental Agency (EPA):
Standards and certifications
Guide to the different standards and certifications applicable to bioplastics: