Plastics based on renewable resources are increasingly becoming a real alternative to petrochemical products. “Even in times of economic difficulties, bioplastics possess an enormous potential”, describes Oliver Kutsch, CEO of the market research institute Ceresana: “Until 2021, demand is likely to increase on average by 19% per year.
“Ceresana, a leading international market research and consultancy companies for the industrial sector which operates branch offices in Constance, Vienna, and Hong Kong, is already publishing the third edition of its market report on bioplastics. The Ceresana business analysts are specialists in markets Plastics, Industry, Additives, Chemicals, Packaging, and Agriculture.
The improved properties of the most recent bioplastics allow for a faster and wider substitution of petrochemicals plastics. Technological progress and a rapid expansion of production capacities enable manufacturers to reduce prices and to continue to increase the competitiveness of bioplastics. A large potential still remains untapped nonetheless: many processors and consumers are still expressing doubts regarding the performance and process-ability of “green” plastics. However, processors and innovative consumer goods companies around the world are introducing bioplastics to improve their image and their sustainability rate.
Europe Leading the Way
Ceresana forecasts revenues generated on the global market for bioplastics to raise to approx. US$5.8 billion in 2021 — compared to current values, revenues will triple. Europe currently accounts for more than one third of total global bioplastics consumption. According to Ceresana, this will continue to be the case for several years to come, not least because Europe is leading in the research and development of bioplastics. However, Asia-Pacific and South America in particular are catching up significantly. They have access to plenty of biomass and agricultural resources, growing sales markets, and governments that promote bioplastics.
Focus on “Drop-In” Bioplastics
The short term trend is in favor of the so called “drop In” green plastics such as green polyethylene or green PET; their properties are similar to those of their fossil equivalents, and, like those, they are recyclable but not biodegradable. These developments are backed by large enterprises in the segments foodstuff, consumer goods, and the automotive industry that intend to reduce their ecological footprint by using easy to recycle bioplastics.
Biodegradable plastics are utilized in all applications where they help to reduce disposal costs: packaging that decomposes alongside leftover food, agricultural films that simply can be plowed in or flower pots and trays for seedlings. Long term, these true bioplastics, bio-sourced and bio-degradable, will take the lion share of the growth as economies of scale are realized in massive bio-refineries and downstream plants.