Bioplastics output to increase fivefold between 2011 and 2016

10 October 2012 11:55  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--A near-fivefold increase in worldwide bioplastics output from 1.2m tonnes in 2011 to 5.8m tonnes in 2016 can be expected, according to latest forecasts that have made previous more conservative estimates obsolete, industry association European Bioplastics said on Wednesday.

By far the strongest growth will be in the biobased, non-biodegradable bioplastics group, especially in regard to biobased "drop-in" solution versions of bulk plastics such as polyethylene (PE) and polyethylene terephthalate (PET), it added.

Large production capacities for drop-in solutions, which merely differ from their conventional counterparts in terms of their renewable raw material base, are being built up, said European Bioplastics.

Leading the field in bioplastics production is partially biobased PET, which already accounts for approximately 40% of global bioplastics production capacity, but is expected to double to 80%, or more than 4.6m tonnes, by 2016.

The new production forecast, published by European Bioplastics in cooperation with the Institute for Bioplastics and Biocomposites of the University of Hannover, also found that biodegradable plastics are demonstrating impressive growth rates.

“Their production capacity will increase by two-thirds by 2016,”said Hasso von Pogrell, managing director of European Bioplastics.

Leading contributors to this growth from 2011 to 2016 will be polylactic acid (PLA) and polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA), which should account for 298,000 tonnes (+50%) and 142,000 tonnes (+550%) respectively, the trade association added.

“The enormous growth makes allowance for the constantly increasing demand for sustainable solutions in the plastics market. [Over time] bioplastics have achieved an established position in numerous application areas, from the packaging market to the electronics sector and the automotive industry”, added von Pogrell.

A disturbing trend is the geographic distribution of production capacities, European Bioplastics said.

Europe and North America remain interesting locations for bioplastics research and development and are also important as sales markets, but those establishing new production capacities typically favour South America and Asia, it added.

“European Bioplastics invites European policy makers to convert their declared interest into concrete measures. We are seeing many general supportive statements at EU level and in the member states, [but there is] a lack of concrete measures,” said Andy Sweetman, chairman of European Bioplastics.

“If Europe wants to profit from growth at all levels of the value chain in our industry, it is high time that the corresponding decisions are made,” he added.

The 7th European Bioplastics Conference will take place on 6 and 7 November in Berlin, with more than 400 experts in attendance, said European Bioplastics.

By: Will Conroy
+44 20 8652 3214

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