- The demand for plastics has scaled 200-folds since 1950.
- Mars Wrigley is looking for compostable packaging for Skittles in the US by 2022.
- The cost of eco-friendly packaging is 3 to 5 times more.
Plastics: A Big Concern for the Environment
According to a 2019 World Wildlife Fund survey, the plastics industry has produced as much plastic as all previous years combined since 2000. Virgin plastic demand has risen 200 times since 1950. It has expanded at a rate of 4% per year since 2000. This has prompted businesses to replace single-use plastic packaging with biodegradable and compostable packaging to drastically reduce the chemical footprint that plastics leave behind.
Compostable Packaging for Skittles in the US
Mars Wrigley and Danimer Scientific unveiled a new two-year agreement in March 2021. The purpose of the partnership is to create compostable packaging for Skittles in the United States. It is going to be in the market in early 2022. Composite packaging involves a type of polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) that looks and feels like plastic. But it can be decomposed unlike normal plastic, which requires anything between 20 to 450 years to completely decompose. Danimer Scientific’s polymer product is made from canola oil and behaves closely to wood in that it degrades as bacteria associate with it. “PHA degrades naturally and remains a very good substance for all forms of materials,” says Stephen Croskrey, CEO of Danimer Scientific, headquartered in the US state of Georgia.
Looking for Alternative Packaging
“Company goal is to promote a circular economy where packaging never becomes waste,” says Alastair Child, Mars Wrigley’s vice president for global sustainability. By 2025, Mars expects to minimize the virgin plastic usage by 25% to have 100% of plastic packaging be recycled, recyclable, or compostable. The cost of eco-friendly packagings, such as PHA, is a barrier to its widespread use because it can be three to five times more costly than normal plastic. However, firms such as California-based Mango Materials and London-based Polymateria have dedicated their businesses to manufacturing biodegradable goods. Polymateria’s plastic biodegrades after three years and can also be recycled during its useful life. Their customers range from East African bakeries to Extreme E, a new electric racing series that uses Polymateria products.