Global brands form bioplastic alliance


Eight global companies including Coca-Cola, Heinz, Nestle, Proctor & Gamble, and Unilever, have come together with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to form the Bioplastic Feedstock Alliance (BFA).

According to the alliance’s website, the group aims to ‘support the responsible development of plastics made from plant material’ and ‘help build a more sustainable future for the bioplastic industry’.

Responding to a heightened consumer awareness of sustainability issues and growing demand for sustainable products, BFA focuses on the ‘responsible selection’ of agricultural materials (sugarcane, corn, bulrush, switchgrass) used to make plastics.

In collaboration with experts from industry, academia and civil society, it proposes to address the impact of their use on biodiversity, land use and food security.

Erin Simon of WWF said: “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 bioplastic is a critical conservation goal, especially as the global population is expected to grow rapidly through 2050.”

Coca-Cola and Ford bioplastics

In related news, soft drink manufacturer Coca-Cola and Ford Motor Company have announced that they will be working in collaboration to utilise bioplastics in Ford’s new concept car.

The drinks company’s 30 per cent bioplastic ‘PlantBottle Technology™’, marketed as the ‘first ever recyclable PET [polyethylene terephthalate] bottle made partially from plants’ will be used to upholster Ford’s new ‘Fusion Energi’ hybrid car.

Ford has said it has produced the ‘first-ever fibre that can be woven into durable, automotive-grade PET fabric from PlantBottle material’, and will use it for Fusion Energi’s seat cushions, seat backs, head restraints, door panel inserts and headliners.

This marks the first time the material has been used for something other than packaging.

Ford said the electric/petrol hybrid car was ‘the perfect vehicle on which to test out the material’, as it is ‘Ford’s most fuel-efficient sedan’.

Coca-Cola added that if PlantBottle interior fabrics were migrated across the majority of U.S. Ford models, it would ‘displace nearly four million pounds of petroleum-derived materials, as well as save the equivalent of 295,000 gallons of gasoline and 6,000 barrels of oil’.

An “atypical partnership”

John Viera, Global Director of Sustainability and Vehicle Environmental Matters at Ford, said: “By using PlantBottle Technology in a plug-in hybrid, Ford and Coca-Cola are showing the broad potential to leverage renewable materials that help replace petroleum and other fossil fuels, reducing the overall environmental impact of future vehicles.”

Scott Vitters, General Manager for the PlantBottle packaging platform at The Coca-Cola Company, said: “This collaboration with Ford demonstrates that PlantBottle Technology can be applied anywhere PET plastic is traditionally used, but with a lighter footprint on the planet. We are pleased to share this technology with Ford, and look forward to continuing to expand the application of PlantBottle Technology.”

The collaboration has been welcomed by the WWF, with Erin Simon, WWF’s Manager for Business and Industry, Packaging and Material Science, saying: “The Coca-Cola Company and Ford Motor Company partnership is a great example of how collaborations can help scale up positive changes to benefit the environment.

“This atypical partnership is a great model for other businesses to follow, and can have a measurable impact on critical environmental issues.”

Read more about bioplastics or find out more about the Ford/Coca-Cola collaboration.