Global demand for biodegradable and bio-based plastics will more than triple to over one million metric tons in 2015, valued at US$2.9 bln as per ResearchandResearch. Bioplastics have moved past the initial phase of market introduction and are now experiencing robust increases in demand in virtually all parts of the world. Gains are being fueled by a number of factors, including consumer preferences for environmentally sustainable materials, improved performance of bioplastic resins with respect to traditional plastics, and the introduction of commodity plastics produced from bio-based sources. Ultimately, however, price considerations will be the main driver of bioplastic market success, and rising petroleum costs may allow some bioplastic resins to achieve price parity with conventional plastics by the end of the decade.
Starch-based resins, PLA will pace biodegradables. Biodegradable plastics accounted for 90% of the world bioplastics market in 2010. Excellent growth is forecast for the two leading biodegradable plastics, starch-based resins and polylactic acid (PLA), both of which will more than double in demand through 2015. More rapid growth is expected for PLA, which will benefit from advancements in compounding polymerization technology, as well as its relatively low cost compared to other bioplastics. Fastest gains for biodegradable plastics, however, will be seen for polyhydroxy-alkanoate (PHA) resins, which are just beginning to enter the commercial market.