This past week was saw a first in bioplastics. From August 22-26, 2016, SPI’s Bioplastics Division hosted its inaugural Bioplastics Week – a social media-based event to increase visibility for bioplastics together with various other partnering organisations, among which European Bioplastics, Plastics Europe, USDA BioPreferred Program, Sustainable Packaging Coalition, and many more.
The highlights of the past week included workshops, Q&A blog posts, reports, infographics, press releases, and many many tweets and posts on social media channels. SPI’s Bioplastics Division held a webinar on biodegradability claims and related environmental claims on 24 August and released their quarterly Plastics Market Watch report on bioplastics yesterday, on 25 August.
SPI’s Plastics Market Watch series focuses on key end-markets for the plastics industry, such as the automotive industry and building and construction. Now, bioplastics had been added to the list.
And none too soon: a survey commissioned by the SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association conducted on a nationwide scale in the US revealed that there is widespread ignorance about bioplastics. SPI’s new report in its Plastics Market Watch series entitled Plastics Market Watch: Bioplastics, is part of the push to educate the public about these unfamiliar materials. In clear and accessible language, the publication presents the business and environmental benefits of bioplastics products and makes the case for their increased use.
“In 2007, SPI formed our Bioplastics Division to promote education and outreach about bioplastics,” said Patrick Krieger, assistant director of regulatory and technical affairs at SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association. “While growth continues in this sector of our industry, we recognize the challenges present in understanding the complex terminology and makeup of bioplastics products, and that is why we released this report.”
As today’s consumers choose products with increasing environmental awareness, brands are responding to their customers’ preferences, and bioplastics are a material of choice for many brands that have yet to reach their full potential.
According to the abovementioned SPI survey, in which 1,107 adults across the US took part, there is little familiarity with or understanding about bioplastics, signaling a clear need to build more awareness about bioplastics. Consider:
· Only 27 percent were somewhat or very familiar with bioplastics.
· 34 percent were not at all familiar with bioplastics.
· After learning about bioplastics, 50 percent of those surveyed indicated they would consider purchasing a product if it “was a little bit more expensive” because it was made with bioplastics.
· More than half, 57 percent, indicated they would probably or definitely be more likely to consider purchasing a plastic product with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Certified Biobased Product seal.
Bioplastics, it would seem, have quite a ways to go yet, and events like this are important. After all, people don’t care about what they don’t know. So let’s keep on getting the information out there!