European Bioplastics, a trade group that represents the bioplastics industry, has predicted production capacity is set to increase by 360 percent to approximately 7.8 million metric tons in the next four years.
The findings, presented at the 10th European Bioplastics Conference in Berlin, have predicted that capacity is set to increase from around 1.7 million tonnes recorded in 2014.
The data compiled in cooperation with the research institutes IfBB — the Institute for Bioplastics and Biocomposites, part of the University of Applied Sciences and Arts in Hannover, Germany — and Germany's Nova-Institute found that bio-based, non-biodegradable plastics, such as bio-based polyester and biobased PET, were set to be the main drivers of this growth.
More than 60 percent of the bioplastics production capacity worldwide in 2014 was bio-based, durable plastics. This share is predicted to increase to more than 80 percent by 2019.
Production capacities of biodegradable plastics, such as polylactic acid, PHA, and starch blends, are also predicted to grow steadily, nearly doubling from 0.7 million tonnes in 2014 to well over 1.2 million tonnes in 2019.
European Bioplastics chairman François de Bie, said: “It seems that compostable plastics are moving from niche to mainstream and many compostable plastics have found their true added value applications.”
The study forecast that Asia will further expand its role as major production hub, with more than 80 percent of bioplastics to be produced in the region by 2019.
It added that the European market for bioplastics is limited by the lack of economic and policy measures to allow for a larger scale-up of production capacities within Europe.
François de Bie added: “Against this background, the implementation of a European policy framework that secures equal access to bio-based resources, creates measures to facilitate market entry for bio-based products, and accounts for the facilitating role of compostable plastics for efficient waste stream management, is of paramount importance.
“We urge European Union legislators to consider and make efficient use of the immense environmental, economic growth and job creation potential of our industry in the forthcoming Circular Economy Package.”