Strong growth predicted for US bioplastics

By Rory Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Polylactic acid

Demand for degradable plastics in the Unites States is forecast to grow by 16.6 per cent a year to be worth US$380m by 2014 thanks to increased capacity, falling prices and improved performance of materials, said a new report.

The entry of key players such as Cargill-owned NatureWorks and Novamount in recent years will ensure capacity growth so that output reaches 325m pounds (147m kg) by the end of the period, said The Freedonia Group.

Efforts to reduce both pollution and reliance on oil-based plastics, as well as continued consumer demand for sustainable and eco-friendly packaging will also spur growth, said the study entitled Degradable Plastic to 2014.

The report suggests the success that appeared to elude the sector for so long could finally be realised as growing capacity, the increased use of blends and potential oil-price volatility all combined to boost demand.

“Prices for degradable plastics are expected to become increasingly competitive, which should open up new market opportunities,”​ said the research.

Performance of the Bioplastics is also improving thanks to the use of more polymerisation, blending techniques and higher yield processing technology, it added.

Leading plastics

The US Bioplastics sector is currently dominated by polylactic acid (PLA) and starch-based plastics. PLA is forecast to make annual gains of 20 per cent until 2014 on greater availability, greater processor familiarity and performance that will expand potential applications.

An increasing number of suppliers, improved resin grades and better blending techniques with other biopolymers are predicted to help starch-based plastics grow at around 11 per cent a year.


A more buoyant outlook for the sector is spurring the development of new products – with polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) predicted for most growth.

“While sales of PHA were negligible in 2009, rapid growth over the next ten years should boost the product up among the leading types of degradable plastics,”​ said the report.

The study estimates that the development of new PHA grades will see it capable of replacing polyolefins in higher performance injection moulded articles as well as containers, bottles and food service disposables.

Degradable Plastic to 2014 is available from The Freedonia Group priced US$4,800

Related topics Processing & Packaging

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