bio-based polymers

Sustainable packaging: why IPI’s caps employ bio-based polymers

Now more than ever sustainable packaging plays a major role within the industry. As of today, 99% of plastics comes from fossil fuels[1]. The carbon footprint from burning them is the fastest growing part of humanity’s global ecological footprint - accounting for 60% of the total[2]. To reduce mankind’s reliance on fossil fuels is not simply a moral imperative: it is the only way out of the climate crisis. That is why sustainable packaging initiatives, such as IPI's bio-based caps, are paramount. 

IPI's openings are the latest introduction in IPI's sustainable packaging offer. Built out of biopolymer packaging materials, IPI’s bioplastic caps have a lower carbon footprint than traditional alternatives based on fossil fuels. First, since they derive from sugarcane they have a smaller carbon footprint, with lower cradle-to-plant-gate greenhouse gas emissions than petroleum counterparts[3]. Also, their manufacturing process and disposal is more eco-friendly, as they do not contribute to the ever-growing fossil fuels' carbon footprint and are 100% recyclable as well as fossil fuel-based biopolymers. 

Renewable, recyclable, bio-based caps are a peculiarity of IPI’s offer. To best understand them we then proceed to explore and measure the sustainable packaging trend.

How important is sustainable packaging for consumers?

When it comes to sustainability, there’s been one major change in recent years: the general public cares about it. Not only that: consumers are paying more attention and are willing to pay more.

There is convincing evidence by Nielsen [4]  and McKinsey [5]  that sustainability is not simply the concern of a small niche market. On the contrary, it is now a mainstream sentiment that cuts across all ages and is especially entrenched in gen zers[6]  and millennials[7]. Consumers demand the adoption of corporate sustainability practices[8]  in the spirit of sustainability, economic equality, and social responsibility.

This attitude has grown even more powerful during the initial aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis. A survey conducted by McKinsey [9] shows that the engagement from customers with sustainability has deepened as a result of the pandemic. Two third of consumers state that it has become even more important to limit impacts on climate change.

What does it mean for a packaging solution to be sustainable?

To talk the talk and not just walk the walk, any packaging solution that aims at being sustainable must abide by these three principles: Renewability, Recyclability, Responsibility.

A packaging is renewable if it comes from renewable sources. IPI's aseptic carton packaging, for instance, is renewable up to 90%. Precisely, it is 72% paperboard, plus bio polyethylene made from sugar cane, which IPI employs to manufacture caps and material layers. What's more, IPI has recently launched a line of paper straws and aims to provide its customers with a completely renewable packaging, with no trace of fossil fuel materials - a roadmap IPI has strongly committed to and which has also included the introduction of bio-based openings made from sugarcane biopolymers.

Recyclability, on the other hand, refers to the possibility of converting packaging waste into new materials and objects. In this regard, IPI is proud to say that its packaging is fully recyclable. By separating the paperboard of aseptic bricks from aluminium and polyethylene, raw materials are given a second life, being enabled to enter the production cycle once again. This is what is called a circular economy.

Last but not least, responsibility is about choices. IPI’s aseptic carton packaging represents a responsible choice at an environmental and societal level. Environment-wise, IPI's aseptic carton packaging reduces CO2 emissions when compared to other packaging solutions. All this translates into a lower carbon footprint compared to alternative materials. On this line, bio-based caps truly stand out, as they produce fewer CO2 emissions than petroleum-based plastic caps.

Also, IPI is Forest Stewardship Council®- certified as well as certified against Aluminium Stewardship Initiative (ASI) Performance Standard. As part of its enduring effort to fight deforestation, IPI has invested in tree planting in Petén, the northernmost department of Guatemala, close to the Mayan Biosphere Reserve and the famous Mayan archaeological site of Tikal. Petén has experienced the world's most rapid deforestation of any country over the last five years[10]. To make things right, all fruit trees financed by IPI will be donated to the farming families of Petén to sustain their livelihood.

Why IPI’s caps employ biopolymers: taking advantage of biogenic carbon

As regards sustainability, IPI is at the forefront of the packaging industry, as it is among the first companies to feature bio-based caps in its aseptic carton packaging solutions. Using biopolymers into openings is crucial to IPI’s sustainability roadmap. Thanks to biopolymers, not only do IPI’s solutions produce less carbon dioxide than the alternatives, they also reduce carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through biogenic carbon.

In fact, IPI’s biopolymers are plant-based - precisely, they are sourced from Brazil, i.e. an area different from the Amazon rainforest, which is therefore preserved. As a matter of fact, plant-based biopolymers are equivalent to plant biomass in every way. Because of this, they "store" carbon dioxide. In fact, through photosynthesis, biomass stores CO2 and releases oxygen. Once the biomass is transformed into a cap, it retains any carbon dioxide stored inside it, actually removing it from the atmosphere

Respect for the environment is maximum in everything IPI does. IPI is among the first suppliers to offer bio-based caps and, also thanks to this, IPI’s packaging solutions are up to 90% renewable, responsibly sourced, and fully recyclable. IPI fights deforestation and supports rural and indigenous communities through its initiatives in Guatemala. To offer carton packages made only from renewable or recycled material, 100% recyclable and able to support circular economy: that is IPI’s goal.

[1] Source:Center for International Environmental Law
[2] Source:United Nations Climate Change
[3] Source:IHS Markit
[4] Source:Nielsen
[5] Source:McKinsey
[6] Source:Bloomberg
[8] Source: More about Corporate Sustainability on Investopedia
[9] Source:McKinsey
[10] Source:The Guardian
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