BERLIN – More than 350 participants from 215 companies caught up on the latest discussions, developments and progress in the bioplastics industry during the 8th European Bioplastics Conference.
In its opening speech broadcasted as video message, EU Environment Commissioner stated: “Bioplastics made from bio-feedstock, and reintegrated into the biosphere as a nutrient, or recycled together with conventional plastic, clearly have a potential for being a truly sustainable material. And it could reduce fossil fuel consumption” . He insisted on the crucial role bioplastics can play in Europe’s transition towards a circular bio-based economy, one of the goals of Horizon 2020.
Potocnik encouraged the bioplastics industry “to continue their work on making bioplastics a truly sustainable material, neutral in its impact on food production and bio-diversity”. He also pointed out that transparent information from the industry about their products and processes was paramount to facilitate the transition and a willingness by the public to shift to more sustainable materials.
In this respect, if LCA (Life Cycle Assessment) is still the best available tool to assess the environmental performance of bioplastics, panel discussion in Berlin focused on the need to break down the complexity of assessing the sustainability of bioplastics, the need to use available and valid methodologies and to provide easy to use tools to consumers to understand these assessments and how they impact on the product they are using.
During the conference the annual market data update by European Bioplastics and the Institute for Bioplastics and Bio-composites of Hannover, Germany was also disclosed. The data emphasized the success of bioplastics industry with production capacities ( not sales volumes ) multiplied by more than four folds from 1.4 million tons in 2012 to more than 6 million tons in 2017. All material types are gaining ground with bio-based non-biodegradable ‘drop-in’ solutions, such as bio-based PE (from Braskem Brazil) and bio-based PET showing the biggest growth. Biodegradable plastics, including e.g. PLA ( Polylactic Acid), biodegradable polyesters and starch-blends, are also demonstrating impressive growth rates. Their production capacity will gain around 60% by 2017.