- Archer Daniels Midland Co., Cargill, Tate & Lyle and Ingredion are founding members of the new Plant Based Products Council, established Jan. 29 at the California Bioresources Economy Summit in Berkeley, according to Food Business News.
- Through private sector programs and government policies, the council will promote the adoption and use of products derived from renewable biomass. To help identify where renewable materials are already available, the council launched a database featuring more than 480 plant-based and bio-based products already on the market.
- This council was created in response to an August 2018 poll that found 48% of millennials said they feel most guilty about their own plastic use and that 64% of this group was willing to use plastic alternatives. Sixty percent expressed their surprise at the lack of alternative options to plastic.
The new Plant Based Products Council was founded on the observation that more and more consumers place greater emphasis on the sustainability of products they purchase.
It’s clear that consumers want to support sustainable businesses. But at the same time, they also want convenience above all else, which puts companies in a conundrum. Although consumers profess to be willing to pay more, according to Asia Pulp & Paper's 2018 consumer trends report, consumers don’t always put their money where their mouth is.
Still, a Horizon Media study found 81% of millennials expect companies to make public commitments to good corporate citizenship. Two-thirds of consumers will pay more for products from brands committed to environmentally friendly practices, according to the Nielsen Global Corporate Sustainability Report. This demand, coupled with consumers' trepidatious dedication to purchasing sustainable options, leaves many companies weighing the benefits of actually switching to sustainable packaging alternatives. On average, production costs for sustainable options are about 25% more than traditional packaging. Furthermore, not only are they more expensive, but these materials also tend to be less effective in maintaining freshness, since packaging companies have not yet identically replicated the tight plastic seal that keeps air out.
Although many companies — especially in other parts of the world — are putting their best foot forward when it comes to reducing packaging waste, other companies ascribe to the “fake it till you make it” principle. Damon Leach, an account representative at Green Rush Packaging, told Food Dive a "solution" for some food companies has been to use material that looks recyclable to shoppers, but in reality, is not.
The newly-formed Plant Based Products Council hopes to alleviate duping consumers through its database that features more than 480 plant-based and bio-based products on the market.
Still, demand from consumers is moving the needle. In the last two years, there have been more than 70 bills introduced in state legislatures regarding plastic bags. Although most of these bills have not passed, the new council hopes to continue the fight, as well as encourage policies that reduce carbon emissions, improve water quality and soil health and curtail solid waste destined for landfills.
A unique council comprising government, non-profit and corporate entities, the Plant Based Products Council is not alone in its fight for sustainable packaging. The National Association for Container Distributors and the Sustainable Packaging Coalition — which touts members along the entire supply chain — are already working toward promoting sustainable packaging.
Formation of this council marks yet another concerted effort to phase out traditional packaging in favor of a sustainable alternative. Now it's up to consumers and companies to commit to reducing the 29.7% of waste that the Environmental Protection Agency reports stems just from the use of packaging.