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Where is the bioplastics industry in 2023?

Interview with Hasso von Pogrell, Managing Director of European Bioplastics for Packaging Europe

In a recent interview with Hasso von Pogrell, Managing Director of European Bioplastics, the discussion centered on the transformative potential of bioplastics in the packaging industry. The urgency to transition to renewable materials aligns with the overarching goals of the EU Green Deal, aiming to reduce the dependency on finite fossil resources and de-fossilize the planet.

The multifaceted advantages of bioplastics became evident throughout the conversation. Biobased, biodegradable, and compostable plastics emerged as key players in facilitating a carbon-neutral Europe. These materials act as carbon sinks, aiding in the closure of both material and carbon loops while bolstering soil fertility through nutrient-rich compost.

The versatility of bioplastics extends across various types, offering alternatives to fossil-based applications. Biobased polymers, capturing carbon from the atmosphere and reducing reliance on fossil feedstocks, emerged as pivotal elements in fostering climate neutrality. Simultaneously, biodegradable polymers and compostable packaging contribute to organic recycling, meeting stringent European standards and paving the way for circular resource preservation.

Regarding potential applications, the conversation highlighted the prospects within packaging. With a conducive legislative framework, a gradual shift from fossil-based to biobased or compostable packaging appears feasible. Rigid packaging stands to benefit from biobased/non-compostable materials that facilitate mechanical or chemical recycling.

Conversely, packaging susceptible to food waste contamination, such as coffee capsules or fruit and vegetable bags, favors compostable alternatives.

However, amidst the promising landscape of bioplastics, challenges loom large. While technically viable, the current market share of bioplastics remains insufficient for a complete substitution of fossil-based plastics. The need for a favorable legislative context to bolster the scale-up of bioplastic products remains an imperative hurdle.

Anticipated challenges in the bioplastics industry, including regulatory concerns, investment in production capacity, and addressing end-of-life infrastructure, are slated for discussion at the forthcoming European Bioplastics Conference. Insights from the 2023 data market report, unveiling production numbers and capacities, will offer critical perspectives to shape the industry's future trajectory.

European Bioplastics aims to convey essential messages to the Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) value chain at the Sustainable Packaging Summit. Advocating for a transition to circular economy models and value chains aligns with the EU Green Deal's goals. Bioplastics, whether biobased or compostable, represent significant contributors to achieving these objectives. They capture CO2, facilitate organic recycling, and align with the principles of reduction, reuse, and recycling encapsulated in the European waste hierarchy.

Hasso von Pogrell's insights underscored the immense potential of bioplastics while addressing their role in sustainability, potential applications, and the challenges requiring collective attention for a sustainable and circular future in packaging.



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