Coca-Cola said earlier this month that biodegradable packaging is“simply not a viable option” but a new report suggests that other smaller drinks companies are beginning to take an interest.
In its 2009/2010 sustainability report, Coca-Cola gave a hostile assessment of biodegradable drinks packaging. It said: “A one-use bottle is simply not a viable option for our business.”
The soft drinks giant explained: “While biodegradable packaging can be a sound choice for products that are not commercially recyclable, the process of capturing the embodied energy and raw materials in beverage bottles for reuse through recycling is, in our view, a much better option.”
But according to a new report on drinks biopackaging from Zenith International not all manufacturers agree with Coca-Cola.
High growth rates
The food and drinks consultancy said the use of biopackaging, defined in the report as compostable packaging, rose by 47 per cent in Western Europe and North America last year. This takes total volume to over 100 million litres – a small proportion of total volume but a large percentage increase nonetheless.
“Despite the difficulties, we foresee continuing strong growth in development projects. If the challenges can be answered, then volume can gain serious market share”, said Jenny Foulds, a senior analyst at Zenith.
Foulds said the environmental credentials of compostable bottles, typically made from corn-based PLA (polylactic acid), sit well with green-minded consumers.
This provides a powerful basis for future growth but challenges such as price, separation from PET and composting facilities persist.
These factors have so far prevented compostable solutions from becoming the green solution of choice for drinks manufacturers. “The use of recycled PET continues to gain momentum and has overtaken compostable bottle formats,”said Foulds.