Global food and beverage plastic packaging output up 0.5% in 2011 from 2010, based on latest estimates from PlasticsEurope; continued innovation will help push demand for plastics packaging, official says

LOS ANGELES , April 19, 2012 () –

Global production of plastic packaging for foods and beverages grew by 0.5% in 2011 compared with 2010, according to the latest estimates from Brussels-based PlasticsEurope, reported Food Production Daily on April 19.

The estimates indicate that food and beverage plastic packaging fared better than other sectors during the recession because of its use in “everyday products which are less influenced by economic fluctuations,” according to preliminary research from the plastic manufacturers’ trade group.

Plastics also have various advantages in packaging over other materials, such as being a cost-effective, more sustainable alternative with various technology advances that extend shelf life, said Thomas Bauwens, Plastics Europe media and communications manager.

Further innovation in the coming years, “such as biosensors that detect bacteria or RFID tags, which can provide warnings over temperature changes and humidity levels,” is expected to further extend shelf life, he said, Food Production Daily reported.

Plastic also conserves resources. A plastic bottle uses one-third less material than it did 40 years ago, and the environmental impact of meat is more than 100 times that of the packaging that protects and extends its shelf life, according to the research.

Consolidated figures and a geographic breakdown for 2011 will be available later this year, said Bauwens, reported Food Production Daily.

Plastic packaging had a 39% share in 2010 European demand from converters, which consumed 46,000 tonnes. The highest converting-level consumers were Germany (11.495 million tonnes) and Italy (7.15 million tonnes), followed by France, Spain and the U.K., he said.

Global plastics consumption, estimated at 200 million tonnes, is projected to grow by an average 4% a year during 2010-2016, according to the study, Food Production Daily reported.

About 70% of world demand is for the five biggest types of plastics: polyolefins, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polystyrene (PS), expanded polystyrene (EPS) and polyethylene terephthalate (PET), said PlasticsEurope.

Another recent study showed that using other materials in packaging instead of plastics boosts energy consumption 3.6 times and greenhouse gas 2.7 times, as well as increasing the packaging mass, said Bauwens, reported Food Production Daily.

The primary source of this article is Food Production Daily, Montpellier, France, on April 19, 2012.

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