US demand for bioplastics will expand strongly through 2016, when it is expected to reach 550 mln lbs, valued at nearly US$700 mln, as per Reportlinker.com. Although bioplastics have begun to achieve a considerable degree of commercial success, the industry remains in an early stage of development, representing only a small niche within the overall plastics industry. Going forward, technical innovations and increased production capacity will combine to enhance the properties of bioplastics, boost their availability, and lower their price, thus making them more competitive with conventional polymers. In addition, many bio-based polymers benefit from relative price stability when compared with their petroleum-based counterparts. Moreover, the desire to decrease dependence on foreign oil will further fuel the expansion of bio-based resins, as will efforts by US manufacturers to enhance sustainability and improve the corporate image they project to an increasingly eco-conscious consumer base. Although biodegradable materials accounted for the vast majority of bioplastics volume in 2011, the emergence of non-biodegradable bioresins will dramatically alter the market landscape. By 2021, these materials will represent more than two-fifths of volume demand. Growth will be fueled by large-volume production of bio-based polyethylene, as well as the eventual commercialization of bio-based polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polypropylene, and polyvinyl chloride, as well as polyethylene furanoate. Since such resins are chemically identical to their conventional counterparts, market acceptance is forecast to occur at a rapid rate. PET is projected to offer significant growth potential over the longer term, particularly as large corporations - especially those in the soft drink industry - are investing heavily in the development of this material. Although demand for biodegradable products will continue to be impacted by issues such as their inability to decompose in landfills and their potential to contaminate the recycling stream, polylactic acid (PLA) is expected to remain the most extensively used resin in the bioplastics market through the forecast period. Advances will be promoted by a widening composting network and greater processor familiarity. Furthermore, PLA is being blended with other resins and additives to create new grades that offer improved product performance, allowing for expanded use in an extended range of applications. Bio-based polyethylene - which entered the market in 2010, is expected to offer the best opportunities for growth through 2016, increasing rapidly from a small base. The exceptionally strong gains are predicated on the expansion of production capacity, which will reduce prices and enable bio-based polyethylene to compete more effectively with its petroleum-based counterpart. Although bio-based polyethylene will continue to command a price premium that will restrict demand in price-sensitive non consumer markets through 2016, the fact that bio-based polyethylene is chemically identical to, and can serve as a drop-in replacement for, conventional polyethylene will remain a key factor driving its adoption.
The total global production of bio-based plastics will increase from current levels of 700,000-800,000 tpa to "hit the million ton market" within a few years, as per Nova-Institut. Manufacturers are increasingly turning towards bio materials not only to reduce C02 (current emission reductions are on average 20-30%), but also to save fossil resources. Although bioplastics only account for a small percentage of the overall polymers market, Carus estimates their share at 7.7% - higher than normal estimates. In 2010, bio PE accounted for the largest share of the biopolymers market (28% of total production capacity), followed by starch blends (16%), PLA (15%), PHA (12%) and bio polyesters (8%). One of the fastest growing types of material is wood plastic composite (WPCs) and the European market has been growing at an average annual rate of 35% since 2005. Further WPC growth is expected in every sector in the coming years and will be helped, he added, by rising plastics prices. As per meta-analysis of life cycle assessments (LCAs) carried out by the Nova Institute on behalf of Proganic, which revealed that the biggest greenhouse gas emission savings can be found when comparing bio-based polymers to polycarbonate (PC). For PLA, the average savings amount to 4.7 ± 1.5kg CO2 equivalents per kg of plastic. For PHA the averages savings potential amounts to 5.8 ± 2.7kg, and for PET and PS the savings range from between 2.5 and 4.2 kg. The lowest savings are to be found when comparing bio-based polymers to PP.
Providing impetus to the growth of bioplastics in USA is a decision by five global companies to push plant-based packaging. The Coca-Cola Company, Ford Motor Company, H.J. Heinz Company, NIKE, Inc. and Procter & Gamble have formed the Plant PET Technology Collaborative (PTC), a strategic working group focused on accelerating the development and use of 100% plant-based PET materials and fiber in their products. PET, also known as polyethylene terephthalate, is a durable, lightweight plastic that is used by all member companies in a variety of products and materials including plastic bottles, apparel, footwear and automotive fabric and carpet. The collaborative builds upon the success of The Coca-Cola Company's PlantBottle� packaging technology, which is partially made from plants and has demonstrated a lower environmental impact when compared to traditional PET plastic bottles. Currently, Heinz licenses the technology from Coca-Cola for select Heinz ketchup bottles in the U.S. and Canada. This new collaborative was formed to support new technologies in an effort to evolve today's material that is partially made from plants to a solution made entirely from plants. By leveraging the research and development efforts of the founding companies, the PTC is taking the lead to affect positive change across multiple industries. PTC members are committed to researching and developing commercial solutions for PET plastic made entirely from plants and will aim to drive the development of common methodologies and standards for the use of plant-based plastic including life cycle analyses and universal terminology. These leading brand companies are making a commitment to champion and support research, expand knowledge and accelerate technology development to enable commercially viable, more sustainably sourced, 100% plant-based PET plastic while reducing the use of fossil fuels. PTC member companies look forward to working together to meet each member's future business goals and lead the charge toward 100% plant-based materials.