Challenges and Opportunities in Global Materials Sustainability

Global materials use is projected to double from 79 Gt in 2011 to 167 Gt in 2060(1). This calls for an urgent and strategic review of raw material usage, energy-efficiency strategies and waste reduction practices. With the increasing consumer and regulatory demands, the present sustainability imperative culminates in reformulating alternative materials with higher recyclability value and bio-based properties for sustainable production.

Our sustainability kit simplifies the complexities of product reformulation to help you get started in your transition to circularity. 


Digital Reformulation: The Future of Alternative Materials

Discover the strategies that drive innovation and growth in product reformulation.

Incorporate Alternative Materials Early

Recent regulatory pressures by the European Green Deal calling for safer and more sustainable chemicals(2), a ban on plastic food packaging in France in January 2022(3) and new packaging taxes introduced in the UK(4) intensify the search for safer alternative materials

An aggressive shift is needed to alter and develop new biomaterials and more sustainable products through a transformation in research and development. New sustainable ingredients with superior properties and performance, less hazardous chemical emissions (especially in biomedical 3D printing), and safer bio-ingredients can be developed and incorporated early in the design phase. Doing it right at the beginning cuts waste, prolongs use and ensures that materials can be safely returned to the environment after use.

What is the most environmentally friendly food packaging?

The most environmentally conscious food packaging places a strong emphasis on sustainability throughout its entire lifecycle, from its creation to its eventual disposal. There are several eco-friendly materials that are commonly considered for food packaging:

  • Glass: This option is known for its reusability, recyclability, and durability. It is easy to clean and a safe choice for transporting food.
  • Compostable Materials: These materials are designed to naturally decompose, ideally leaving behind no harmful residues. They are often derived from plant sources like corn, sugar cane, or bamboo.
  • Bioplastics and Cornstarch: These serve as alternatives to traditional plastics and are sourced from renewable biomass materials. They tend to break down more rapidly compared to conventional plastics.
  • Seaweed: An innovative material that is gaining traction for its use in creating biodegradable packaging.

Achieve Materials Breakthroughs in Final Products

Virtual twin technology made it possible to explore, simulate and test new sustainable alternatives in ways we could only imagine before and turn them into more eco-friendly packaging products, such as ultralight glass, bioplastics and sustainable cardboards

Reformulate Alternative Materials > Molecular Formulation > Dassault Systèmes

Ultralight Glass

The weight of glass bottles has been reduced by 40%(5) in the last 30 years as technology advanced. For example, Ardagh Group's ultralight bottles project pioneered research and testing of coatings by simulating coatings interaction and efficacy with the surface glass through the virtual twin. This reduced raw materials and energy used, minimized risks and timescales of new coatings' development and maintained materials quality and strength.

Digitalize for Effective Results

The most effective way to accelerate reformulation is through digitalization. Digitalization is central to any modeling, predicting and understanding of materials' substitution and development as it lists, screens and identifies the right, compliant raw materials to replace the uncompliant ones. Digitalization also helps run an efficient formula management system and create an optimum testing environment to gain:

  • Full control, complete visibility and traceability of formulations across all stakeholders, and real-time processing for speed and accuracy 
  • Seamless data flow for comprehensive product lifecycle assessment that prioritizes materials with the least environmental impact and harmonizes (re)formulation capabilities with safety, regulatory and environmental compliance
  • Simulation and virtual testing of materials as opposed to physical testing, which takes up far more resources, cost and time

Our infographic shows quick wins in the circular economy through digitalization.

Whatever your sustainability goals may be, it is time to design with the end in mind. Take the alternative materials route and start shaping products for a cleaner and safer future. 

Explore our Solutions

Source: OECD
2 Source: Cefic
Source: World Economic Forum
Source: Gov.UK
5 Source: GPI

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