Global Markets and Technologies for Bioplastics

Published - Feb 2012| Analyst - Doug Smock| Code - PLS050B
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Report Highlights

The global use of bioplastics was 0.64 million metric tons in 2010 and 0.85 million metric tons in 2011. BCC expects that the use of bioplastics will increase up to 3.7 million metric tons by 2016, a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 34.3%.


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.
  • Cellulosics.
  • Bio-polytrimethylene terephthalate (PTT).
  • Bio-polyethylene.
  • 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.


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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Published - Sep-2010| Analyst - Doug Smock| Code - PLS050A

Report Highlights

  • Bioplastics will grow at a significant pace over the next 5 years. The total worldwide use of bioplastics is valued at 571,712 metric tons in 2010. This usage is expected to grow at a 41.4% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2010 through 2015, to reach 3,230,660 metric tons in 2015.
  • By 2010, ready access to crops such as soybeans, corn, and sugarcane moved the United States strongly into bioplastics. North American usage is estimated at 258,180 metric tons in 2010 and is expected to increase at a 41.4% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) to reach 1,459,040 metric tons in 2015.
  • Use of bioplastics got off to a faster start in Europe than in the United States. European usage is now reported at 175,320 metric tons in 2010 and is expected to increase at a 33.9% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) to reach 753,760 metric tons in 2015. 

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