The first aluminum packaging appeared in the late 1950s. The metal packaging market has grown dramatically over the past 60+ years. One of the most popular types of packaging in many industries, including food and cosmetics, consists of metal cans and containers. Metal containers have continued to evolve since they first became popular to meet new regulations and requirements, such as extending the shelf life of perishable foods. Plastic bags and films are a step up from the metal containers used to dispose of perishable products. These pouches and films help keep the container airtight and sterile. In recent years, biodegradable alternatives to plastic packaging have become popular. The use of these biodegradable films and bags has increased significantly and is expected to continue to grow.
History of biodegradable films
The idea of making biodegradable containers from natural polymers was first seriously considered in the 1980s. Since then, more than 200,000 patent applications for biodegradable packaging have been filed in the US alone. However, biodegradable packaging was barely used in the 1980s and 1990s due to serious drawbacks. Companies go out of their way to make it durable, breathable enough/too breathable, and meet many other basic needs. Since then, biodegradable packaging has evolved enormously and its use has expanded accordingly.
Currently in use
For perishable goods, biodegradable packaging technology is very popular. Biodegradable and edible films are used to package a variety of fruits and vegetables, including broccoli and plums. Until recently, they were used to stop the growth of microbes on raw meat. The use of biodegradable films for cosmetics and other items that need to be protected from exposure to the air is another frequently discussed application. Such products are usually sealed with biodegradable plastic alternatives and placed in tin or metal containers. The use of this technology is expected to grow in the future as it becomes more widespread.
Even with increased use, the amount of biodegradable packaging produced in 2016 still only represents about 1% of all plastic packaging. In the same period that produced 400 million tons of plastic every year, nearly 4 million tons of biodegradable packaging was also produced. This is a small amount compared to the production of plastic, but it exists and is used for a short time - less than 25 years.
In February 2022, Bioplastics International launched a water-soluble PVA. The substance was created for use as a plastic substitute. It can be used to make water-soluble packaging films and PVA bags. Due to the biodegradability, biocompatibility and non-toxicity of the material, it is used in contact lenses, artificial organs and drug delivery systems in healthcare.
TerraVerdae Bioworks Inc announced the acquisition of PolyFerm Canada in January 2022. The purpose of the acquisition is to expand the company's PHA technology offering. The acquisition enables the company to produce advanced biodegradable bioplastic products in response to the expanding market for biodegradable plastics for environmentally friendly products.
In January 2022, Vikas Ecotech Limited announced an investment in sustainable bioplastic (BHA) production technologies. In addition, the company works with Aurapha Private Ltd. over the production of biodegradable plastic. PHA will be produced from renewable resources and will be naturally biodegradable.
Biodegradable packaging is expected to continue to gain popularity in society over the next decade. According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, by 2020 the production of biodegradable packaging could account for 2.5% of all plastic production. This will almost double the production of biodegradable packaging in 2016 to 6 million tons. This is a significant increase in just 4 years. Markets that typically use plastic packaging are expected to adopt biodegradable packaging and biopolymers at a rate comparable to plastic packaging. This applies to both perishable goods and cosmetics.ke and pharmaceuticals. It is reasonable to assume that the rise in popularity of biodegradable films and bags will coincide with the growing trend in the use of metal containers. Biodegradable packaging and reusable metal containers are expected to have a large market share in the next few years.
The use of biodegradable packaging has increased, as has the amount of research being done in the region. Over the past 20 years, the number of food packaging papers has increased more than 7 times. Active packaging is one of the main directions of this research. The use of these containers goes beyond the passive content of food. Recent innovations in this area include the use of essential oils as antimicrobials and the incorporation of antioxidants into biopolymers to remove oxygen from packaging. These are just a few of several researched technologies that are expected to hit the market in the next few years.
In general, the trends in metal and biodegradable packaging are very encouraging. As biodegradable packaging develops, it may overtake plastic as the material of choice. It is a remarkable technology for improving food safety and protecting the environment.