Exploring the industrial perspective on biobased plastics in food packaging applications – Insights from Sweden

Elsevier, Sustainable Production and Consumption, Volume 35, January 2023
Molina-Besch K., Keszleri H.

Biobased plastics are seen as promising alternative material to reduce negative environmental impacts of plastic food packaging. Despite many years of development efforts of biobased plastics, the current commercial use of them is still low indicating barriers to their application. The purpose of this interview study is to explore the perceptions of industry stakeholders towards the use of biobased plastics in food packaging applications. Data were collected from 17 Swedish companies in the packaging, food, and retail sectors. The results of the study show a generally positive attitude towards the use of biobased plastics in food packaging among the interviewed companies. At the same time, the study identified the following barriers for an increased uptake of biobased plastics packaging in the sample: concerns about the potential conflict between food security and the cultivation of feedstock crops, technical performance issues, consumers' confusion, and doubts about the actual environmental benefits of biobased plastics. The key identified drivers for an increased use of biobased plastics packaging were lower material prices, increased technical performance and a greater supply. Respondents from all three sectors expressed a preference for drop-in bioplastics and a low interest in biodegradable bioplastics.