Experts from various industries met in Stuttgart on 15th June 2016 to kick off the Special Interest Group (SIG) for Marketing, Communication, Ecobalance and Sustainability, which is the second of four SIGs that will be established under the auspices of the ”Akteursplattform Bioökonomie Baden-Württemberg”.
The SIG for Marketing, Communication, Ecobalance and Sustainability meeting was held in the Geno-Haus building in Stuttgart. Around 20 representatives from industry and government met to discuss the topic in greater detail. The meeting was opened by Prof. Dr. Ralf Kindervater, CEO of BIOPRO Baden-Württemberg GmbH, who highlighted that a successful bioeconomy cannot survive without functioning material cycles that play a key role notably in the field of waste management. Taking BIOPRO’s successful BioFabNet (Biobased Fabrication Network) communication campaign as an example, Kindervater explained how the general public can best be kept informed. BioFabNet, which ran until the end of 2015, dealt with the development of biobased plastics for use in 3D printers and their optimisation using public material testing.
Dr. Guido Reinhardt from IFEI Heidelberg gave the first keynote speech in which he presented the strengths and weaknesses of ecobalances. He emphasised that ecobalances need to take into account sustainability studies in order to assess the environmental impact of products. He also highlighted the need to develop transparent ecobalances in order to provide information on how individual values were determined. In addition, he explained that the ecobalances of similar products can be quite different and are not transferable without recalculation. He concluded his speech by saying that complete sustainability analyses need to be based on many different analyses and aspects, and that an ecobalance is just one of several aspects that go to make up environmental compatibility assessments.
Mosca GmbH, a manufacturer of strapping machines and straps, is focused on sustainability and has already placed a polylactic acid (PLA)-based product on the market. PLA plastics are produced from renewable raw materials, which can replace the use of fossil resources. The straps are entirely based on biological products and can be composted. Compostability is particularly useful as the bands are disposable products.
“As the price of a PLA-based straps is around three times higher than a conventional polypropylene (PP) or polyethylene terephthalate (PET) strap, the PLA-based product has not yet been able to penetrate the market,” said Alfred Kugler from Mosca GmbH, who gave the second keynote speech. As far as PLA-based straps are concerned, focus is put on sustainability rather than on functionality. As straps are disposable products, marketing is mainly aimed at companies that want to use PLA straps to improve their sustainability.
The event showed that there are still some obstacles that need to be overcome before biobased products sell as well as their traditional, petroleum-based counterparts.