What is the fundamental challenge of the bioplastics industry?
Communication and marketing: getting the message through to a larger audience.
What is the message?
The added value of bioplastics:
- reduced CO2 footprint
- performant materials
- a sustainable alternative to traditional plastics
- the use of renewable resources as feedstock
- valorisation of waste streams
- a responsible and collective project between agriculture and industry
- new applications for R&D and innovations
Why is it challenging to get the message through?
Most of the people working in the bioplastics industry are passionate about what they do: they’re innovating and disrupting chemistry. They’re making sure that tomorrow’s chemistry is more sustainable than today’s!
Many people in the bioplastics industry have a scientific and technical background, which makes it more challenging to get the message through to to a non-scientific and non-technical audience.
People with scientific and technical backgrounds are more likely to be convinced by rational arguments, data and facts.
The wider non-scientific and non-technical audience may likely be convinced by less rational and more emotional arguments: how can it connect to their person.
Is there another challenge?
The bioplastics industry is a B-to-B environment which usually involves old-school marketing practices.
The difference between B-to-C and B-to-B marketing is watering down in this disruptive digital age. We’re now in the age of individual-to-individual communications where social media and bloggers have a wider outreach and more impact than traditional media.
New tools, processes and marketing techniques enable us to fully automate and personalise marketing. It will take some time but the Bioplastics industry will eventually pick it up.
A Collective Approach
Eventually, a mass marketing and information campaign will be needed. Who will pay for it? Only a handful of big companies have these larger marketing budgets.
Biodegradable and Biobased
Historically, bioplastics has been associated to biodegradable and bio-based plastics. This may be an obstacle for breakthrough. They may have to go their separate way for breakthrough.
Plastic Waste in the Oceans
Plastic is currently a hot topic due to the plastic garbage patches in the oceans.
The thing is that we cannot live without plastic. This plastic crisis should be an opportunity to push Bioplastics forward. Bioplastics won’t solve all the problems related to plastics but it will make a shift in the mindsets and it will clearly reduce the environmental impact compared to traditional plastics.
The plastic waste in the oceans is related to an end-of-life challenge. Looking at the scale at which it happened, we can only conclude that this was done on purpose and with criminal intent. We need to find who did it if we want to solve this problem. The plastic industry cannot be blamed for the criminal actions of others.