The global bioplastics industry's production capacity is set to increase to 6.1 million metric tons from 4.2 million tonnes by 2021, according to the trade group European Bioplastics.
“The market is predicted to grow by 50 percent over the coming years despite the low oil price,” said François de Bie, European Bioplastics chairman at the 11th European Bioplastics Conference in Berlin.
The organization states that packaging remains the largest market for bioplastics, taking almost 40 percent (1.6 million tonnes) of the total bioplastics share in 2016.
The report shows an increase in the uptake of bioplastics in sectors such as consumer goods (22 percent or 0.9 million tonnes) and the automotive and transportation sector (14 percent or 0.6 million tonnes). Also the construction and building sector has seen a rise in bioplastic use (13 percent or 0.5 million tonnes), where technical performance plastics are being used.
Bio-based, non-biodegradable plastics, such as polyurethanes (PUR) and bio-based polyethylene and bio-based PET, are the main drivers of this growth, with PUR making up around 40 percent and PET over 20 percent of the global bioplastics production capacities, said European Bioplastics in a new report.
Production capacities of biodegradable plastics, such as polylactic acid (PLA) polyhydroxyalkanoate PHA, and starch blends, are also growing steadily, says the organization, and predicts them to increase from around 0.9 million tonnes in 2016 to almost 1.3 million tonnes in 2021.
Around a quarter of the global bioplastics production capacity is estimated to be located in Europe by 2021.
“The data illustrates an important trend, driven by changing consumer demands, to make plastic products more resource efficient and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the dependency on fossil resources. This trend is the result of substantial investments in research and development by the many innovative small and large companies that concentrate their strengths on the development of bio-based products designed with the circular economy in mind,” states de Bie.