01 December 2010 20:28 [Source: ICIS news]
DUSSELDORF (ICIS)--The European bioplastics industry should experience a strong 2011 following positive growth in 2010, an industry executive said on Wednesday.
“2009 was a difficult year, but in the bioplastics industry, a difficult year was one in which you didn’t move forward very fast, not one where you collapsed, which many other industries did,” said Andy Sweetman, global marketing manager of sustainable technologies at packaging films group Innovia Films and chairman of the European Bioplastics Association.
“This year, my own company [Innovia] is looking at a growth rate [in sales] of about 35% [year on year] and that is not untypical of other bioplastic producers. So it has been a good year and will definitely pick up,” he added.
He spoke on the sidelines of the 5th European Bioplastics Conference in Dusseldorf.
Sweetman said the reason for the growth trend was that consumers now have more confidence.
“There is also that companies now know sustainability is a mega-trend that won’t go away,” he said. “Last year in 2009, the association found that companies in the market didn’t go forward in sales, but there was still a lot of projects going on and people were getting ready for when the market was receptive to the sustainable idea.
“That is why many are coming into fruition right now,” he continued. “2009 wasn’t a good idea to launch ideas, but it was a good year to do your homework.”
A large number of companies in the bioplastics industry decided during 2010 to start up the projects they had been previously planning.
“If you look around this year, there has been more investment in the (bio) polymers that have been around, more products released from producers and you will have seen a lot more new and bigger players on the block,” Sweetman said.
“I’m sure 2011 will go exactly the same way, I wouldn’t be surprised to see even higher growth rates as more projects come through,” he added.
The chairman also said a key advancement in the bioplastics industry was that technology had come through to allow more direct competition with conventional polymers and their properties.
“Before, looking at a biopolymer, you were wondering how many technical parameters you were having to compromise. Now we are seeing that the biopolymers work in the same machines and print the same way; you are using biomaterials in a conventional way,” he said.
“We are not asking people to fundamentally change what they are doing,” Sweetman said.
However, Sweetman added that the bioplastics industry still had things to do to further the market’s success.
“Speaking to brand owners, one of the key things we need to do is communicate even more on the overall lifecycle of biopolymer materials,” he said.
“Not just the fact that they are renewable and compostable at the end of life, but also communicate more in terms of how we are moving our processes forward, how we are increasing our scale, how we are getting the process element of the life cycle right,” he added.
The conference continues through Thursday.
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