Major growth trends in bioplastic packaging to 2020

By Rory Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Compound annual growth rate Biodegradation Future

The emergence of new materials and major suppliers are set to shake up the global market for bioplastic packaging over the next decade, according to a report from Pira International.

The industry consultants forecast a new breed of bioplastics will become significant drivers as “packaging market demand gradually shifts from biodegradable and compostable polymers towards biopackaging based on renewable and sustainable materials”.

The study - The Future of Bioplastics for Packaging to 2020: Global Market Forecasts​ - predicts the current top five suppliers, which presently meet more than half of global supply, will be joined by a raft of other companies as novels manufacturing streams come on-line.

“From 2010 bioplastic technology is expected to change with the commercialisation of materials produced directly by natural/genetically modified (GM) organisms and the introduction of non-biodegradable, bio-derived polyethylene (PE),”​ said the report.

Bioplastic materials are defined as materials that are either biodegradable and compostable and derived from both renewable and non-renewable sources, or materials that are non-biodegradable and derived from renewable resources.

Demand and supply

Global bioplastic packaging demand is forecast to reach 884,000 tonnes by 2020. A 24.9 per cent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) is expected from 2010-15 slowing to 18.3 per cent in the five years to 2020, said the analysts.

Pira expects the fast-growing GM and bio-derived segments will account for a quarter of total bioplastic packaging market demand by 2020. Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA) are forecast to achieve a CAGR of 41 per cent and bio-derived PE a staggering 83 per cent over the period.

At the same time traditional bioplastic packaging technologies based on starch, cellulose and polyester are each forecast to show a decline in market share.

Suppliers and technology

The report said the current highly concentrated Bioplastics market is also set to see major changes as new firm join the top rank of suppliers. It forecasts that large petrochemical companies such as Braskem, Dow Chemicals and Solvay are scheduled to commence bio-derived PE production by 2012 at industrial-scale facilities in Brazil. Telles, the joint venture PHA producer, is also expected to become a major world player and several Chinese companies are known to be investing in significant capacity expansion programmes that should propel them into leading market positions, added the report.

The period is also due to see significant technological advances in fields such as algae and carbon dioxide-based materials. A new sugar-based bioplastic that can be sourced from non-food crops and produced via a low energy process is also tipped to reach the market within the next five years.

Market share

Europe is currently the largest market for bioplastic packaging with demand account for more than a 50 per cent share of world tonnage in 2010. While North America and Asia are presently lagging behind, Pira said it expects growth rates in these two regions to outstrip Europe in the period to 2020 – with Japan predicted to continue driving Asian expansion.

Rigid packaging presently has a 52 per cent share of the bioplastic segment. However, the report forecasts that flexible packaging, which currently accounts for the remaining 48 per cent, will take a growing share of bioplastics segment up to 2020

"Demand will be driven by the commercialisation of bio-derived PE and PHA, and the wider availability and improved properties for biaxially oriented PLA (BOPLA) film,"​ said Adam Page, head of information at Pira.

The Future of Bioplastics for Packaging to 2020: Global Market Forecasts is available from Pira International priced ₤3,375

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GMO= more polution

Posted by vanessa faryan,

I thought bioplastics were wonderful before I read this article but since they are are supporting GMOS, it changed my view. We need packaging and bioplastics may be better than petrolium plasics, (study should be done to see the numbers). we need to start consuming less. that is the ultimate poison of the world.

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Biodegrable vs. Compostable

Posted by Drew Speer,

Unfortunately, many confuse and misuse the terms "biodegradable" and "compostable".
Many materials are biodegradable, but not compostable. For example, red wood is inherently biodegrable, but it will not meet ASTM 6400 for compostability which requires biodegradation to occur in 180 days.
Unfortunately, the international standards for compostability do not take into account the structure of the compost and soil. They require such rapid and complete degradation that nothing is left to contribute to that structure. However, its incorrect to assume that contributes to climate change. returning bio-based carbon the the atmosphere as CO2 is mostly climate change neutral, especially if the bio carbon is annually renewable.
Adding fossil carbon to the atmosphere is however a net addition of greenhouse gas to the planet.

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Future of Bioplastics

Posted by Symphony Environmental,

"While there is some scope for improvement of bioplastics, they are too expensive and have too many disadvantages to be a real alternative to oil-based plastics. Their availability is also severely limited.

Two recent LCA's have shown that the fuels consumed and gases emitted during the production process make them less sustainable than ordinary plastics, and they cannot honestly be described as renewable.

Most of the current bioplastics should not be described as "biodegradable" because they will degrade readily only in the special conditions found in industrial composting. They are not even useful in compost because the international standards require them to convert to CO2 gas within 180 days - contributing to climate change but not to the soil.

There is certainly a demand for biodegradability, but this is being met by oxo-biodegradable plastics such as d2w. Their cost is much lower, they use the same extrusion and conversion machinery as normal plastic, they can be recycled with normal plastics, and they will biodegrade in the open environment if they do not get collected for recycling.

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