One of the fastest-growing materials’ sectors in the past four years has been the production of plastics from renewable resources referred to as bioplastics. The main driver is an interest in reducing use of petroleum as a feedstock because of its contribution to climate change, its pricing volatility and its occasional role as a political weapon.
This report explains the various types of bioplastics that are available, indicates key players and trends, and provides detailed forecasts on demand by global region and projected use by type of application, such as packaging, automotive, consumer goods and general industrial.
STUDY GOALS AND OBJECTIVES
Goals and objectives of this study include:
- Identifying trends that will affect use of bioplastics and their major end-use application markets.
- Reviewing, analyzing and forecasting specific end markets for bioplastics by material types, with sections devoted to each type of renewably sourced plastic.
- Analyzing and forecasting market developments regarding major applications for bioplastics, including packaging, automotive, electrical/electronic, medical, building and construction.
- Profiling many of the most important suppliers of bioplastics, including resin producers and compounders.
REASONS FOR DOING THE STUDY
The rapid emergence of bioplastics is one of the major materials stories in recent years. Once billed as biodegradable plastics, the theme for renewably sourced plastics has shifted dramatically in recent years to sustainability. To maximize market impact, the growing trend is to compound biobased plastics with oil-based plastics to extend their reach into markets for durable products used in cars and cell phones, among other applications. The focus has shifted away from contribution to the solid waste stream and toward total carbon footprint.
TARGET AUDIENCE OF THE STUDY
Due to the growing concern about climate change and negative health impacts of many existing materials, this report will be of interest to anyone who sells, designs or manufactures products that are or could be made from polymeric materials. This report will also be of value to individuals who are helping to establish public policy concerning issues ranging from limits on use of plastics packaging to potential limits on use of vinyl compounds in medical applications.
This report will be of value to technical and business personnel in the following areas:
- Personnel in end-user companies in a wide range of industries, from retail bags to auto manufacturing.
- Marketing and management personnel in companies that produce, market and sell any type of plastics.
- Companies involved in the design and construction of process plants that manufacture resins and products made from the resins.
- Companies that supply or want to supply equipment and services to plastics companies.
- Financial institutions that supply money for such facilities and systems, including banks, merchant bankers and venture capitalists.
- Investors in both equity and fixed-income markets; the fate of the plastics weighs heavily on the values of the publicly traded stocks of companies such as Eastman, Bayer, DSM and DuPont.
- Personnel in government at many levels, ranging from federal to state and local authorities, many of whom are involved in trying to ensure public health and safety; the report also will be of interest to military scientists studying new packaging and equipment.
SCOPE AND FORMAT
The focus of this report is on plastics made from renewable resources such as biomass or food crops. There is even some potential development of bioplastics from animal resources. Plastics that may be potentially made from waste carbon dioxide are reviewed because of their potential impact on bioplastics, but their data is not included in the forecasts presented here. Bioplastics are further defined here as polymer materials that are produced by synthesizing—chemically or biologically—materials that contain renewable organic materials. Natural organic materials that are not chemically modified (e.g., wood composites) are excluded. The report includes the use of renewable resources to create monomers that replace petroleum-based monomers, such as feedstocks made from sugarcane that are used to manufacture polyester and polyethylene. Ethanol, a major product in Brazil, is one small chemical step from ethylene.
The focal point is on the following resin chemistries:
- Polylactic acid.
- Thermoplastic starch.
- Bio-polyamides (nylons).
- Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA).
- Bio-polyols and polyurethane.
- Bio-polytrimethylene terephthalate (PTT).
- Bio-polyethylene terephthalate (PET).
Biodegradable and photodegradable polymers made from petrochemical feedstocks are not included. Other renewable resin chemistries are also covered but in less detail, as their roles are not as well-developed. These include collagen and chitosan.
METHODOLOGY AND INFORMATION SOURCES
Both primary and secondary research methodologies were used in preparing this report. Extensive searches were made of literature and Internet resources, including many of the leading trade publications, as well as technical compendia, government publications and information from trade and other associations. Many background sources were used to develop chemical and property descriptions, but all forecasts are solely attributable to BCC Research.
Douglas A. Smock was the Chief Editor of Plastics World Magazine from 1986 to 1994 at the Cahners Publishing Co. He also served as a Senior Editor of Modern Plastics at the McGraw-Hill Publishing Co., Associate Publisher and Editorial Director of Modern Mold and Tooling at the McGraw-Hill Publishing Co. and Chief Editor of Purchasing Magazine at Reed Business Information (RBI) from 2000 to 2004. At RBI, Smock also served as Co-chairman of the Corporate Editorial Board. He is the coauthor of Straight to the Bottom Line and On-Demand Supply Management, two leading books in the field of supply management. He is the former editor of BCC Research’s newsletter High Tech Ceramic News. Smock received a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Oh.
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The information developed in this report is intended to be as reliable as possible at the time of publication and of a professional nature. This information does not constitute managerial, legal or accounting advice, nor should it serve as a corporate policy guide, laboratory manual or an endorsement of any product, as much of the information is of a speculative in nature. The author assumes no responsibility for any loss or damage that might result from reliance on the reported information or from its use.