0.006% of world land used for bioplastics feedstock – association

08 April 2013 11:54  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--The feedstock required for today’s bioplastics production accounts for less than 0.006%, or 300,000 hectares, of the global agricultural area of 5bn hectares, the European Bioplastics trade association said on Monday.

The amount was determined on the basis of figures from the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) and calculations of the Institute for Bioplastics and Biocomposites (IfBB) at Germany’s University of Hannover, it added.

This ratio correlates to the size of an average cherry tomato placed next to the Eiffel Tower, European Bioplastics said.

“A glance at the global agricultural area and the way it is used makes it abundantly clear: 0.006 percent used to grow feedstock for bioplastics is nowhere near being in competition with the 98% used for pastures and to grow food and feed,” it added.

A new European Bioplastics brochure, Bioplastics – Facts and Figures, seeks to move the discussion over the controversial use of feedstock for non-food purposes, in a world with a fast-growing population that has an increasing demand for food and feed, on to a factual level, the trade association said.

Of  the 13.4bn hectares of global land surface, around 37% (5bn hectares) are currently used for agriculture, including pastures (70%, or approximately 3.5bn hectares) and arable land (30%, or approximately 1.4bn hectares), it added.

The arable land can be further divided into areas predominantly used to grow crops for food and feed (27%, or approximately 1.29bn hectares), as well as crops for materials (2%, or approximately 100m hectares, including the 0.006% share used for bioplastics), and crops for biofuels (1%, or approximately 55m hectares), the association said.

European Bioplastics’ land use for bioplastics feedstock calculation used a 2011 world bioplastics production capacity figure of 1.2m tonnes.

According to European Bioplastics, increasing the efficiency of feedstock and agricultural technology will be key to assuring the balance between land use for innovative bioplastics and land for food and feed.

“The emergence of reliable and independent sustainability assessment schemes will also contribute to this goal,” the association said.

By: Will Conroy
+44 20 8652 3214

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