Sustainable packaging produced from sugarcane and cane-based product is gradually moving from niche to established trend, according to the Emissions and Technology Consultant at the Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA), Alfred Szwarc. He points to recent announcements, such as a partnership involving Brazilian petrochemical company Braskem, TetraPak and the Brazilian subsidiary of Nestlé, as evidence that the changeover is gaining momentum.
In late July, the three companies detailed plans to use polyethylene (PE) produced from sugarcane to make caps for box-type packages of two popular Nestlé milks brands, Ninho and Molico. “What we’re witnessing is amazing. It brings to mind the Plant Bottle project launched not so long ago by Coca-Cola, which was adopted recently by Heinz to produce ketchup bottles. Now, we have TetraPak and Nestlé using complete packages or components of these packages produced from bioplastics,” says Swarc.
He adds that major companies are becoming increasingly aware of the significant advantages in producing bioplastics from raw materials such as sugarcane: “They contribute to cut greenhouse gas emissions much more effectively when compared to packaging produced with petroleum-based plastics.”
Brazil was the first country in Latin America to sell packages produced from sugarcane-based bioplastics. Companies such as Procter&Gamble, Coca-Cola and Heinz were the pioneers in using polyethylene and bioPET produced from sugarcane.
According to the CEO of Nestlé Brazil, Ivan Zurita, with the introduction of the new polyethylene caps, the company expects to promote environmental awareness by providing consumers with products in packages made from renewable sources. “In addition, the new packages add further value to our products,” he said.
According to TetraPak Brazil CEO Paulo Nigro, polyethylene packaging made from sugarcane is only a first step towards the development of another version that will be 100% sustainable and renewable. “With this innovative solution, TetraPak strengthens its commitment to consumers and society to create a healthier and sustainable planet,” he added.
Braskem CEO Carlos Fadigas sees the partnership as a sign of stronger social commitments. “Being involved in this project, alongside companies that are global leaders in their segments, is very important and reinforces each participant’s commitment to promoting sustainability” he concluded.