Stories of Tesla #3: Bio-based Plastic Packaging

The third project “Bio-based Plastic Packaging” is for the Federatie Nederlandse Levensmiddelen Industrie (FNLI). 

The packaging industry is one of the largest segments to produce plastic worldwide. Following the negative effects of plastic production (e.g. CO2 emission) and usage on the environment and climate, there is a high need for sustainable packaging solutions. Bio-based plastics are often a sustainable replacement for petroleum (fossil) based plastics as they reduce the dependence on fossil raw materials and are often accompanied by a reduction in CO2 emission. Subsequently, the Dutch government wishes to upscale the share of bio-based plastics from 1.5% (2016) to 15% by 2030.

The Federatie Nederlandse Levensmiddelen Industrie (FNLI) is a branch organization representing all food and drink producers in the Netherlands. As these producers bring packaging-product combinations to market, they have producer responsibility concerning sustainable packaging legislations. However, as FNLI industry members must adhere to different sustainability regulations, while also maintaining high-quality packaging material for their product and being economically viable, this is a very complex and challenging position. Moreover, the FNLI does not currently have a general and clear approach with regards to the usage of sustainable materials (e.g. bio-based plastics) in their product-packaging combinations due to a very diverse packaging portfolio.

Our project aims to investigate the potential uptake of bio-based plastics in the packaging-product combinations of FNLI industry members in the bread and milk sector. We will investigate different bio-based plastics (Bio-PE, bio-PET, PLA and PEF), assess operational obstacles, materialize possible trade-offs and forecast the sustainability impact of proposed solutions. Throughout our project there will be a focus on the Dutch packaging chain and its associated stakeholders. Moreover, the Kennisinstituut Duurzaam Verpakken (KIDV) will provide us with guidance and knowledge regarding sustainable packaging throughout our project.

Our project will result in the following deliverables: (1) An extensive report which will encompass an overview of our research efforts, (2) a roadmap which will consist of a prioritized plan entailing the most promising steps to undertake for the FNLI, (3) a pitch where we present the highlights of our report and roadmap and (4) a small hand-out which will directly inform the FNLI  industry members with our most important findings.