Press Releases

Renewable Resources Super-Charging Global Bioplastics Market Growth

July 06, 2016

Wellesley, Mass., Jul 6, 2016 – One of the fastest-growing materials sector in the past decade has been the production of plastics from renewable resources, or bioplastics. BCC Research reveals in its new report that the growing trend is to compound bio-based plastics with oil-based plastics to extend the reach of bioplastics into markets for durable products used in cars and cell phones, among other applications.

As a rule, bioplastics are derived from renewable resources such as crops, biomass or algae. With biodegradable (also called compostable) plastics, the focus is on end-of-life or disposal, independent of carbon source standards. BCC Research defines a fully biodegradable polymer as a polymer that is completely converted by microorganisms to carbon dioxide (CO2), water and humus. Further, bioplastics are polymer materials that are produced by synthesizing—chemically or biologically—materials that contain renewable organic materials.

The global bioplastic market, which totaled 1.6 million metric tons (MT) in 2015, should total nearly 6.1 million metric tons in 2020, reflecting a five-year (2015-2020) compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 30%. Americas as a segment for bioplastic market totaled 798,830 MT in 2015 and should total nearly 3.4 million MT in 2020, a five-year CAGR of 33.3%. The Asian market totaled 380,100 MT in 2015 and should total nearly 1.4 million MT by 2020 on a five-year CAGR of 29.7%.

Currently, bioplastics rely on around 0.01% of the global agricultural area of five billion hectares. BCC Research forecasts bioplastics production could grow by 271% from 2015 through 2020, which means bioplastics could consume farm products from about 0.04% of total global agricultural area by 2020.

A key industry trend is the increasing adoption of bioplastics called drop-ins, which are products chemically equivalent to the oil-based plastics they replace. Major packagers favor drop-ins because they require no changes to existing equipment, customers receive no surprises, and the products can be recycled in existing streams.

“Although specifics vary widely, bioplastics generally have weaker thermal properties than oil-based plastics. For that reason, there is an increasing trend toward blending bioplastics with oil-based plastics for durable applications,” says BCC Research analyst Jason Chen. “Some bioplastics absorb water and are unstable in humid conditions. Polylactic acids (PLAs) can be brittle, and their rheological properties make them difficult to process in certain applications, thus limiting their potential. The occurrence of a very small amount of moisture during processing will hydrolyze PLAs, leading to a reduction of molecular weight and a reduction of mechanical properties. For these reasons, there is a growing trend toward using bioplastics as alloys with traditional plastics.”

Global Markets and Technologies for Bioplastics (PLS050D) analyzes specific end markets by material types, with sections detailing each type of renewably sourced plastic.  Analyses of global market drivers and trends, with data from 2014, estimates for 2015, and projections of CAGRs through 2020 also are provided.

Editors and reporters who wish to speak with the analyst should contact Steven Cumming at steven.cumming@bccresearch.com.

Global Markets and Technologies for Bioplastics( PLS050D )
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