STUDY GOALS AND OBJECTIVES
The objective of this study is to provide an analysis of the global biodegradable polymer market. According to most sources this market has not yet realized its potential because of several critical yet unresolved issues.
REASONS FOR DOING THE STUDY
Although biodegradable polymers have been commercial for more than 20 years, this niche market is beset with a variety of roadblocks led by high prices, lack of industrial infrastructure in the United States, and a strong global legislative mandate to increase the usage of these materials.
New biodegradable polymers are being introduced, accompanied by a continuing withdrawal of other products. As well, key companies are entering and leaving this market, with more of the former rather than the latter.
The industry has been characterized by new technologies, tightening environmental restraints, and very unstable oil prices among other issues. This combination of factors necessitates a realistic appraisal of the impact of these polymers over the next 5 years. High oil prices are said to be a major driver for biodegradable polymers.
SCOPE OF REPORT
Although the term “biodegradable polymers” is well known, there are few truly universal standards in place, nor is the fate of these materials in composting mediums clear in many instances. In addition, the major drivers for growth in North America stem from mandated legislation. Some such mandates are in place, but, so far, many have not been promulgated.
The controversy within the industry as to which materials should be considered biodegradable continues unabated. Several materials in question include polyolefin-based compositions containing starch and polymers containing aromatic groups that microorganisms have difficulty utilizing in their metabolism.
Part of the current debate revolves around defining an acceptable period of time for biodegradation to be completed. Almost all carbon-based materials biodegrade, 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 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.
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, Western European, and Asian products, technologies, markets, and companies.
Following a detailed analysis of available information that included trade literature, articles and technical/marketing presentations and papers, and company literature, interviews were conducted with key producers, marketers, and trade associations in order to realistically assess market size, growth rates, company involvement, and other important factors impacting the market.
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.
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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 speculative in nature. The author assumes no responsibility for any loss or damage that might result from reliance on the reported information or its use.