From Starbucks moving away from plastic straws to Kroger announcing the end of plastic grocery bags by 2025, plastic has been as much in the news as it has been on consumers’ minds this year.

Mintel pegged the trend early, projecting that packaging would play a big role in 2018 in the global push to reduce food and product waste and noting that brands will be called on to help keep marine conservation at the forefront of package development.  Consumers are paying attention, too. According to the 2018 “What’s in Store” report from IDDBA, 41% of shoppers purchased “green" items in 2016, a 4% increase from the previous year.

With consumers and manufacturers alike thinking twice about the use of certain plastic packaging — including for bakery and snack items — brands are taking a look at alternatives to traditional plastic materials. Alternatives can take a variety of forms, from paper-based wrappers for snacks to PLA-lined take-home boxes for bakery items to plant-based biodegradable materials used in place of traditional plastics.

There are many examples of companies homing in on this demand. Danimer Scientific recently announced that its polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) material has been recognized as an eco-friendly alternative to petrochemical plastics by University of Georgia (U.G.A.) researchers and members of the U.G.A. New Materials Institute. Danimer’s resins are used by brands to make products that are fully biodegradable and can replace many plastics made with petrochemicals, including food packages, shrink-wrap and tamper-proof seals.

“This issue quite literally affects the entire world, so we were grateful for the opportunity to supply U.G.A. with samples of PHA to explore what happens to the material in different environments,” said Scott Tuten, chief marketing officer.

Plant-based materials are a common alternative for plastics. Taghleef Industries, for example, offers biodegradable films used in bakery and snack products, made with bio-based resins and available under the Nativia name.

Other plastic alternatives are derived from different food-based products.  Tenka Flexible Packaging offers stand-up zip pouches made from textured rice paper, available in three colors and featuring a horizontal strip window. Eco-Products, Inc., makes clamshell packaging for take-home items, made with sugarcane. French company Lactips has used the milk ingredient casein to create intelligent and edible packaging for food products.