Nestlé has announced that it will work in partnership with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and seven consumer firms to encourage the responsible development of bioplastics, derived from plant materials.
Along with Nestlé, the Bioplastic Feedstock Alliance (BFA) will include key fast-moving consumer goods firms The Coca-Cola Company, Danone, Ford, H.J. Heinz Company, Nike, P&G, and Unilever.
As consumers across the world seek sustainable alternatives to petroleum-based products, the alliance will aim to guide the responsible selection and harvesting of agricultural materials - such as sugar cane, corn, bulrush, and switchgrass - used to make bioplastics.
"Joining the alliance means we will be able to help build a more sustainable future for the bioplastics industry whilst addressing issues such as land use, food security and biodiversity," said Nestlé's Global Research and Development Sustainability Manager, Anne Roulin.
BFA intends to bring together leading experts from industry, academia and civil society to develop and support informed science, collaboration, education, and innovation to help guide the evaluation and sustainable development of materials that can be made into bioplastics.
Critical for conservation
"Ensuring that our crops are used responsibly to create bioplastics is a critical conservation goal, especially as the global population is expected to grow rapidly through 2050," said Erin Simon, of WWF.
Already, bioplastics made from sugar cane and other plant-based materials are used in Nestlé's product portfolio. Since early 2012, for example, several sizes of VITTEL bottled water have been packaged in an innovative PET bottle made from 30% plant-based material.
Nestlé is particularly interested in second generation bioplastics, made, for example, from the by-products of forestry, agriculture or the food chain - such as molasses or cane residue - or non-food sources such as algae, cellulose and waste products.