Back to basics with biodegradable packaging

In terms of new trends, 2024 marks a return to basics. Keeping things simple, favoring short cycles, facilitating sorting and recycling logistics. Focus on biodegradable packaging.

Biodegradable packaging is the big winner in the race to minimize environmental impact, offering materials that can break down into 100% natural elements.

Overview and key figures on biodegradable packaging

Biodegradable packaging is defined as “packaging capable of decomposing completely and returning to the natural cycle, under the action of micro-organisms and without human intervention”.

Key facts about biodegradable packaging
  • The term “biodegradable packaging” defines packaging whose decomposition has no harmful medium or long-term impact on the environment.
  • The materials used in biodegradable packaging decompose in their entirety into natural elements.
  • The healthy decomposition process should be complete in less than a year on average.
  • Biodegradable materials degrade under the action of micro-organisms (bacteria, fungi, etc.) and without any human intervention in the process.
  • Favourable climatic conditions, such as oxygen, temperature and humidity, facilitate packaging decomposition.
  • Biodegradable materials minimize environmental impact and facilitate the end of the circular economy loop, without having to integrate recycling channels.
  • Biodegradable packaging contributes to a positive environmental impact across all life-cycles, and is a key factor in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
  • The qualification “biodegradable” is a term prohibited by law on all products and packaging.
  • “Non-biodegradable plastic tea and herbal tea bags are banned from sale”. This article of the anti-waste law for a circular economy, which came into force on January 1, 2022, incorporates the 130 articles aimed at combating all the different forms of waste. An in-depth transformation of the habits of both manufacturers and consumers.

The main markets for biodegradable packaging

Among the markets that are making greater use of biodegradable packaging, the beverages and liquids market stands out for its growing demand for eco-responsible packaging in the face of the challenges posed by plastic bottle pollution.

The rise of biodegradable packaging in the beverage and liquids market is closely linked to the growth in demand for mineral water bottles.

Consumers have become more demanding when it comes to the quality of their drinking water, and many people around the world prefer bottled mineral water to tap water, for fear of the illnesses that can result from drinking unsafe water.

There is a wealth of opportunities for developing 100% biodegradable materials to meet this growing demand.

Finally, among the other markets likely to replace their current packaging (notably plastic) with biodegradable packaging materials, food packaging materials top the list, given their predominance in the packaging ecosystem.

Sustainable solutions for biodegradable packaging

The use of biodegradable materials is a guarantee of durability and reduced environmental impact.

What materials should be used to facilitate the decomposition of biodegradable packaging?

A lot of packaging is made up of biodegradable materials combined with other non-biodegradable elements (plastics, for example). This type of packaging is more complex to manage, both in terms of sorting and waste collection, since it has to be recycled through various channels.

The most accessible future solution for biodegradable packaging remains single-material packaging, to avoid the end of the circular economy loop.

Reducing the sorting gesture for the consumer, and lightening the logistics for the recycling actors represent one of the perspectives the most efficient long term.

Finally, prefer biodegradable packaging for immediate consequence the growth of a virtuous loop in favor of usable resources.

Because while an ideal circular economy would consist of using only recycled materials to manufacture new packaging, the reality on the ground is more complex.
Thanks to biodegradable packaging, usable resources are maintained and the circular economy loop is fed via a form of inverted logic: the packaging feeds the resource in return.

If you’re at the heart of biodegradable packaging trends or a player in the packaging and logistics ecosystem, come to ALL4PACK Emballage Paris 2024 to meet other industry professionals.

ALL4PACK Emballage Paris is THE packaging trade show not to be missed!

Join us at the next ALL4PACK Emballage Paris 2024: registration is now open!

In the meantime, take advantage of the replays of the previous ALL4PACK Emballage Paris conferences, and take part in all the 2023 events.

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