Expert updates: Plastic transition

Category : Market information: figures and trends

Published on 13/01/2020

image Expert updates: Plastic transi...

The plastic transition: a major challenge for food-processing companies

All stakeholders in the food-processing chain are focused on the ecological problems linked to plastic packaging: from legislators to consumers, manufacturers, and distributors.
As new regulations limit the use of plastic packaging, the supply chains are increasingly using new-origin (plant rather than fossil) biodegradable and/or compostable packaging that recycles better, or replacing plastic altogether by more durable materials (paper, cardboard, aluminium, etc.).
All initiatives have the same objective: to limit the impact of packaging on the environment.

The Market

• 310 million tonnes of plastic waste are produced each year worldwide. 79% is accumulated in landfills or dumped in nature, and only 9% is recycled.
• 13 MT of plastics end up in the oceans each year. There are likely already 150 MT in the oceans at the moment, and if the trend continues, by 2050 there could be more plastic than fish in the oceans.
• France produces 2.2 million tonnes of plastic packaging each year: 1.1 MT for household packaging and 1.1 MT for industrial and commercial packaging. The raw materials used to produce the packaging come from three sources:
o New sources: 82% (86% in 2018)
o Recycling: 14.5% (+20%)
o Bio-based: 3.5% (+80%)


• According to a study carried out by L'ObSOCO, Citeo, DS Smith, and the Groupement des Mousquetaires,
• 70% of French people say they are concerned about the issue of packaging. Plastic is the subject of the greatest concern.
• 80% of French people say that packaging that incorporates recycled materials could be a criterion for choosing the product.
• 61% of French people say they are poorly informed about the recyclability of their packaging.
• More than 50% of French people have bought a product in bulk in the past 12 months.
• 86% of French people say they sort their waste (59% systematically, and 27% regularly). Only 45% of 18–24-year-olds systematically sort waste, compared with 64% of the over 55s.
• According to a study carried out by DS Smith and White Space, 1.5 million tonnes of plastic packaging (out of 70 million tonnes) could be replaced each year in Europe in 5 retail sectors: fruit and vegetable presentation trays, packaged fruit and vegetables, ready meals, animal protein, and shrink wrapping.
• According to a study by GlobalData, 35% of British consumers prefer to buy products without plastic than products packaged in recycled plastic.