It's no secret that consumer demand for better everyday products® made by companies with purpose is rising. All age groups, especially Millennials and Gen Z, are more aware of consumer products' negative health and environmental impacts in the way they are packaged. They increasingly expect brands and retailers to be more socially and environmentally responsible. "In 2022, consumers will look to connect with brands that reflect their evolving beliefs, and they're willing to pay a premium for eco-friendly or sustainable products".1 

As more sustainable buzzwords gain popularity within the food packaging industry, navigating the eco-friendly sphere, and understanding the right direction for your business can be difficult. good natured Products Inc is a North American leader in earth-friendly products and they're on a mission to help businesses, big and small, break up with fossil fuels and switch to plant based. In fact, they’ve helped displace over 11.5 million pounds of petroleum-based plastics (and counting) and are here to help demystify renewable resources and earth-friendly solutions. 

Sustainability is not a fad

So, why are plant-based products and the materials they are made of a better alternative to traditional petroleum-based plastic? You may also be wondering how to choose one material over the other. Spoiler alert: there are some that are better for the planet and all the living things on it. 

When choosing sustainable food packaging, responsible material choice is one of the first things you should consider. With more and more consumers prioritizing eco-friendly solutions, using packaging made from a non-renewable resource (aka traditional plastic made from fossil fuels) may not be in your best interest, not to mention the planet.

In fact, according to Kantar's 2021 third annual report, "Who Cares, Who Does?"sustainable shoppers accounted for 22% of the global population in 2021. They found that Eco-active Shoppers, "are highly concerned about the environment and are making the most of actions to reduce waste." This population segment is actively growing yearly, "worth $446 billion to the industry, an increase of $70 billion since 2020.” The market is shifting, and we want to help your business do the right thing, and not be left in the (prehistoric) dust.

Now, before you jump into making your material choice, it’s helpful if we define some commonly used terms in the sustainable packaging market:

Fossil Fuel: in this context, fossil fuel is what conventional plastic is made from and is a product of the oil and gas industry (aka non-renewable).

Renewable resource: a resource that will replenish itself within a finite amount of time as it can be easily replenished. This can then lessen our reliance on fossil fuels. The sun, the wind, and water are traditional renewable resources. 

There are a variety of renewable plant-based materials that can be used in replace of fossil fuels. However, three of the most commonly used plant-based resources that make sustainable food packaging today are corn, sugarcane and tapioca.

1. We Really Like Corn 

Corn is North America's most widely used feedstock- it's the building block of sustainable food packaging! The feedstock is so abundant, that the food packaging derived from it is the most cost-effective and earth-friendly option for businesses looking to make the switch. Being a local crop, packaging made from this renewable resource uses less GHG emissions from transportation. As a result, most of the compostable packaging on the market today is produced using a polylactic acid (PLA) derivative from corn processing. 

You may wonder if the corn used for packaging is taking away from the food supply. You're not alone; we're here to clear the air on this myth. Not all corn makes it from farm to table in commercial farming facilities. There are by-products made available through the corn refining process. For instance, a corn crop could be used to make corn oil, animal feed, sweeteners, or plant-based plastics. 

Corn starch is used to make food packaging. It's commonly made from resin from the starch in yellow dent field corn – purposefully grown to supply feed and industrial end uses. The starch used to create bioplastic food packaging could otherwise be used for things like shoe polish. Bioplastics use less than 1% of the global corn supply annually. If you compare that with the 33% of food that gets wasted every year, while we are not mathematicians, the impact of plant-based plastics on food supply is extremely small.

2. Sugar Cane’s Waste is Actually Treasure

Mainly produced in abundance in Brazil and India, sugar cane is an extremely sustainable natural resource commonly used for biofuels. good natured® produces eco-friendly packaging from bagasse, a by-product extracted during sugarcane processing. Bagasse fibres are collected and mixed with water until the fibres develop into a pulp. Then pressure and heat are applied to transform the pulp into the finished product.

Bagasse is a more sustainable alternative to conventional tree fibre products or polystyrene. The production process requires much less energy, and since it is a by-product of the industry, it uses reclaimed "waste" that would otherwise be discarded. 

In short, sugar cane has the sweet potential to form sustainable, earth-friendly products, even beyond the bounds of food packaging! Of note, good natured® produces a range of "tree-free" compostable take-out containers that are cut-resistant, ultra-durable and leak resistant while remaining free of chemicals of concern!

3. Tapioca... It’s Not Just for Bubble Tea

Tapioca is a cassava starch widely used as a biopolymer (a binding or gelling agent). It's made from natural resources and contains zero petroleum-based components. The inedible waste parts of the tapioca root can be used as a biodegradable ingredient in plant-based PLA plastic. This makes it a viable alternative to the fossil-based raw materials used in everyday petroleum-based plastic packaging. 

The Future is Bright (PSA, wear sunscreen!)

There's constant development in material innovation to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and replace them with rapidly growing plant-based resources. As technology advances, feedstock sources change and evolve quickly to include more fringe crops, agricultural waste and even micro-organisms. For example, marine seaweed, kelp, and other algae are being introduced to produce edible, non-toxic and biodegradable bio-based plastic film! Scientists are also looking at shrimp shells as an input to make bioplastics.

So, what material is right for your business? You'll want to consider how long your goods will be in the packaging, whether it be weeks, days, or sometimes hours, from when the food is packaged to when it's no longer serves its original purpose. It will also often depend on what end-of-life options are available in your municipality. 

good natured® offers over 400 products and services through wholesale, direct to business, and retail channels. From plant-based home organization products to certified compostable food containers, bio-based industrial supplies and medical packaging, they are focused on making plant-based products more readily accessible to people as a means to create meaningful environmental and social impact.

If you're interested in learning more about sustainable packaging solutions, check out these Six Key Considerations for Plant-Based Packaging.

good natured Products Inc. is a publicly traded company on the Toronto Venture Exchange under the ticker symbol GDNP and the OTC Markets Group under the ticker symbol GDNPF.

[1] 4 Meta for Business: Business Marketing Research and Intelligence, US Micro-shifts Study, 2022,

[2] Kantar: Who Cares, Who Does? Study, September 2021,