This is in fact still a minuscule fraction (0.5%) of the total production of plastics in the world amounting to approximately 300 million metric tons in 2012 absorbing 8-9 % of the total crude oil production (5% directly and 4% for the processing energy).
Another way to consider the minuscule impact of the total production of Bioplastics is to consider the land use associated with the biomass and feedstock necessary to produce the current tonnage. Considering the growth rates anticipated in the market study, the actual land used for sourcing renewable feedstock for bioplastics will amount only to approximately 0.02 percent of the global agricultural area in 2017.
This is the conclusion of the latest market forecast which the industry association European Bioplastics publishes annually in cooperation with the Institute for Bioplastics and Biocomposites of the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Hannover in Germany.
In terms of plastics type, applications and geography, the market study also emphasizes the following:
“Green PET(*) and PET replacement bioplastics (PLA and PEF) are showing the biggest growth in absolute value. Biodegradable plastics, which e.g. support biowaste collection and thereby increase waste stream efficiency, are demonstrating impressive growth rates. Their production capacity will gain around 60 percent by 2017.
(*) Biobased PET is containing biobased monoethylene glycol (MEG). MEG accounts for about 30 percent of the PET equation; purified terephthalic acid, or PTA, makes up the remaining 70 percent is currently of petrochemicals origin.
The packaging market will remain the leading segment for bioplastics applications. Here, the bioplastics industry offers a growing range of mature applications – much-needed new solutions that contribute to reducing the dependency on fossil feedstock, to minimizing the carbon footprint of packaging and that offer additional recovery and recycling options. While packaging is still the leading market segment, other very different segments are gaining in strength, in particular consumer electronics, automotive, and the fiber market.
As a growing industrial sector bioplastics have the potential to provide additional jobs in Europe. The industry’s engagement, especially in rural areas that might otherwise suffer from economic decline, leads to increasing employment opportunities. A European knowledge base growing around the bioplastics industry can help provide highly skilled employment for generations.
European Bioplastics’ current data shows that Europe and North America remain interesting as locations for research and development and also important as sales markets. However, the establishment of new production capacities is favored in South America and Asia. “In order to stay competitive along the complete bioplastics value chain, Europe needs to step up its game. We call upon the European Commission to establish a level-playing field for the biobased industries in Europe and a clear cut policy framework for promising markets such as bioplastics“, said European Bioplastics President de Bie in light of the current forecast.”
Another market study recently published by RnR Market Research highlights similar conclusions:
Starch-based resins and polylactic acid (PLA) will remain the leading bioplastic products through 2017, combining to account for over 60 percent of demand. For starch-based resins, advances will be bolstered by increased regulation of conventional plastic products, particularly plastic bags, as governments around the world continue to promote sustainability PLA demand will benefit from the development of resins and compounds with enhanced performance for more durable applications such as fibers, automotive parts, and electronic parts.
Western Europe was the largest regional consumer of bioplastics in 2012, accounting for over half of global demand. The region will see strong gains through 2017 as well, bolstered by added regulations and incentives that favor bioplastics over conventional resins. North American demand is expected to more than double, driven by rising consumption of PLA. Advances in the Asia/Pacific region will be fueled by robust growth in China, which has become a major consumer of bioplastics resins used to produce manufactured goods for export.
World bioplastics production used to be concentrated in the US and Western Europe. This began to change in 2012: Brazil, China and Thailand are expected to become some of the top world bioplastics producers.