U.S. Department of Agriculture: Agricultural Research Service, Lincoln, Nebraska


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Starch Polymers, Chapter 15


U.S. Government Work


Paper constitutes the most important material in the United States for packaging and containers largely because of its low cost and wide availability (WPO, 2008). It is also perceived as a sustainable material because it is derived from plants and is recycled at a very high percentage (62%) (EPA, 2010). Plastic ranks as the second most used packaging material in the United States. Plastics can provide transparency, greater moisture protection, and various mechanical properties that are superior to paper packaging. Consequently, some types of plastic packaging continue to grow faster than other packaging materials (WPO, 2008). In contrast to paper, only 7% of plastic generated as waste is recycled. This explains why more plastics ultimately end up in landfills than paper or any other packaging material (EPA, 2010). Plastic processors worldwide are becoming increasingly aware that environmentally sustainable packaging has become mainstream. It can no longer be considered only a niche market that can be ignored or given token attention. Informed consumers are demanding sustainable packaging; state and local governments are mandating it; and now, even the largest retailers are building it into the foundation of their marketing strategies (Deligio, 2009; Wood, 2010).