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Leading cosmetics companies join sustainable bioplastic alliance

By Chris BARKER , 02-Dec-2013

Two of the world’s top consumer goods firms, Unilever and Procter & Gamble, have joined forces with six other major companies to form a group which will promote the use of sustainable bio-plastics.

Together with Coca-Cola, Danone, Ford, H.J., Heinz, Nestle and Nike, the companies will work with the World Wildlife Fund to encourage the responsible development and growth of raw materials for bio-plastics in a group known as the Bioplastic Feedstock Alliance (BFA).

The companies aim to promote the use of plastics which are not "food competitive" such as sugarcane and corn, according to an interview with the news organization IPS.

Several of the companies involved, including Unilever and P&G, are already pooling corporate resources through the organization Plant PET Technology Collaborative to develop more sustainable bio-plastics.

“The primary focus of BFA will be on guiding the responsible selection and harvesting of feedstocks- such as sugar cane, corn, bulrush and switchgrass- used to make plastics from agricultural materials," says a statement. 

The best materials for sustainability…

The BFA claims that consumers around the world are becoming more and more aware of sustainability issues and open to the idea of renewable plastics. This is supported by the growth in 'green' and preservative-free cosmetics in recent years.

The companies involved have also dipped their toes in sustainable bio-plastics before- P&G, for example, began moving to sustainable sugarcane for their plastics as early as 2010.

Bio-plastics are a significant step up for sustainability due to being a renewable resource, unlike petro-plastics which can only be created through geological time.

This form of packaging has also received attention for potentially being biodegradable. Most plastics produced using natural materials can be broken down by microorganisms in the environment under the right circumstances.

Erin Simon, a packaging and materials manager from the WWF, says: "This alliance will go a long way in ensuring the responsible management of natural resources used to meet the growing demand for bioplastics. Ensuring that our crops are used responsibly to create bioplastics is a critical conservation goal, especially as the global population is expected to grow rapidly through 2050.”

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