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New market data shows bioplastics industry set for dynamic growth

The results of the European Bioplastics’ annual market data update, presented on December 4, 2019, at the 14th European Bioplastics Conference in Berlin, Germany confirm a dynamic growth of the global bioplastics industry.
“In an increasingly environmentally conscious environment, the global market for bioplastics is predicted to grow by more than 15 percent over the next five years“, says Hasso von Pogrell, Managing Director of European Bioplastics.

Global bioplastics production, biodegradable and non-biodegradable capacities 2018-2019 and forecast to
2024 (graphic courtesy European Bioplastics).

The market data update 2019 has been compiled in cooperation with the research institute nova-Institute in Hürth, Germany with the data for the global production capacities of bioplastics is based on the market study “Bio-based Building Blocks and Polymers” to be released by nova-Institute.

According to the market data update, the global bioplastics production capacity is set to increase from around 2.1 million tonnes in 2019 to 2.4 million tonnes in 2024.

This trend is possible thanks to the steadily increasing demand for sustainable products by both consumers and brands alike and the continuous efforts of the bioplastics industry to develop innovative materials with improved properties and new functionalities, said Hasso von Pogrell, Managing Director of European Bioplastics.

PP and PHAs to drive industry growth

Innovative biopolymers such as polypropylene (PP) and polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) are driving this growth. These polyesters are bio-based, biodegradable, and feature a wide array of physical and mechanical properties.

PHAs are an important polymer family that entered the market at a larger commercial scale, which continues to increase. Production capacities are set to more than triple in the next five years. Production capacities of PP are set to almost sextuple by 2024. This is due to the widespread application of PP in a wide range of sectors.

PP is a very versatile material that features excellent barrier properties. High-performance PP grades are an ideal replacement for several conventional fossil-based plastics, especially polyethylene (PE).

Biodegradable bioplastics are expected to have a marginally higher share of production capacity in 2024 than non-biodegradable bioplastics (graphic courtesy European Bioplastics).

PEF to take over PET?

Bio-based, non-biodegradable plastics, including the drop-in solutions bio-based PE and bio-based polyethylene terephthalate (PET), as well as bio-based polyamides (PA), currently make up for around 44 percent (almost 1 million tonnes) of the global bioplastics production capacities.

The production of bio-based PE is predicted to continue to grow as new capacities are planned to come online in Europe in the coming years. Intentions to increase production capacities for bio-based PET, however, have not been realised nearly at the rate predicted in previous years, but actually declined over the years.

Instead, the focus has shifted to the development of polyethylene furanoate (PEF), a new polymer that is expected to enter the market in 2023. PEF is comparable to PET, but is fully bio-based and furthermore features superior barrier and thermal properties, making it an ideal material for beverage bottles.

Packaging remains the dominant market

Packaging remains the largest field of application for bioplastics with almost 53 percent (1.14 million tonnes) of the total bioplastics market in 2019.

With over half of the global bioplastics market, packaging is estimated to remain as the dominant segment for
production capacity in 2024 followed by textiles and consumer goods (graphic courtesy European Bioplastics).

The data also confirms that bioplastics materials are already being used in many other sectors, and the portfolio of applications continues to diversify. Segments, such as automotive and transport or building and construction, significantly increased their relative share.

Europe to increase production capacity share

With a view to regional capacity development, Asia remains a major production hub with over 45 percent of bioplastics currently being produced there. Presently, one-fifth of the production capacity is located in Europe. This share is predicted to grow to up to 30 percent by 2024.

Global land-use estimation for bioplastics 2019 and 2024. Despite market growth forecasted, land-use is expected to remain at around 0.02 percent (graphic courtesy European Bioplastics).

The land used to grow the renewable feedstock for the production of bioplastics is estimated to be 0.7 million hectares (ha) in 2019 and continues to account for only around 0.02 percent of the global agricultural area of 4.8 billion ha hectares.

Despite the market growth predicted in the next five years, the land use share for bioplastics will remain at only around 0.02 percent.

The data shows once more that there is no competition between renewable feedstock for food and feed, and the use for bioplastics. 94 percent of all arable land is used for pasture, feed and food remarked Francois de Bie, Chairman of European Bioplastics.

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