The global biodegradable polymer market is expected to continue its high growth phase over the next five years. The market is projected to reach a volume of nearly 1.3 billion lbs in 2013. This market is expected to reach nearly 1.5 billion lbs by 2014 and 3 billion lbs by 2019, a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.4%.
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Although the term biodegradable polymers is well known, there are only a few truly universal standards in place; moreover, the fate of these materials in composting mediums is unclear in many instances. In addition, major drivers for global growth stem from mandated legislation. Though some mandates are in place, many have not been promulgated.
The controversy within the industry as to which materials should be considered biodegradable continues unabated. These resins currently include polyolefin-based compositions containing starch and polymers containing aromatic groups that microorganisms have difficulty utilizing in their metabolism.
Furthermore, there are additives said to convert petroleum-based resins to biodegradable versions. These resultant resins are said to be oxo-biodegradable.
Part of the current debate revolves around defining an acceptable period of time for biodegradation to be completed. Almost all carbon-based materials are biodegradable, if given an acceptable period of time.
This report includes polymers that producers market as fully biodegradable. Most define a fully biodegradable polymer as a polymer that is completely converted by microorganisms to carbon dioxide, water and humus.
In the case of anaerobic biodegradation, carbon dioxide, methane and humus are the degradation products. However, many within the industry insist on a time period for degradation such that the terms biodegradability and composting are not synonymous. The issues concerning biodegradable versus compostable resins is a very important issue that is discussed in detail.
Polymers derived from renewable resources (non-petroleum-based) are not covered unless they are considered biodegradable since many polymers derived from renewable resources are not biodegradable. These materials are often termed as bio-based. Some polymers are both bio-based and biodegradable.
This report covers the chemical types of biodegradable polymers along with their properties, production, producers and applications. The companies involved will be detailed in terms of their products including trade names and their impact on the market. Definitions and standards, market drivers, biodegradation testing, environmental issues, composting and relevant technologies will also be discussed.
An examination of global consumption is provided along with considerable information regarding North American, European and Asian products, technologies, markets and companies.
Research analyst Mel Schlechter has more than 40 years of experience in the chemical industry and specializes in plastics market research. He has been with BCC Research for more than a decade and holds a B.S. in chemistry, an M.S. in organic chemistry, and an M.B.A. in marketing.
PLS025D - May 2011