The global bioplastics market will see a five-fold increase in production volumes by 2016, from 1.2 million tons to an anticipated 6 million tons.
According to a new market forecast from the study from the University of Hannover, Germany, partially bio-based PET will continue to lead the field; it currently accounts for approximately 40% of the global bioplastics production capacity.
Geographically, Asia is predicted to be home to 46.3% of the global bioplastic production capacity by 2016, the study found, and South America to just over 45%, driven mainly by feedstock availability. In Brazil, world number one in bio-PE production Braskem has targeted 2013 as the year to bring its bio PP facility on stream. Other factors impacting growth include robust market demand growth, relative scarcity of oil and gas and supportive government policy in most countries of the region. These regions are also less likely to have large fossil energy discoveries or feel any major supply impact of the large shale gas discoveries in North America.
However, several factors might conspire to hold back the potential of biorenewable materials in Asia Pacific. “Prices remain high, since application and technology development is an ongoing process,” the study said. “The low scale-up of manufacturing capacity also increase per unit costs. In addition, bioplastics' inferior performance attributes, such as moisture absorption, low heat deflection temperature, and reduced resistance against chemical attacks, limit their application range.” Also, the poor execution of eco-labeling policies and insufficient composting facilities in Asia-Pacific countries will continue to restrict the potential applications of bioplastics going forward.
For the time being, bioplastics are playing a limited role in packaging and in the plastics market overall, the study concluded.