Bioplastics could experience a substantial demand uplift

According to market data from European Bioplastics (EUBP) and the Nova-Institute, global bioplastics production capacity is set to increase from 2.112 million tons in 2018 to 2.616 million tons in 2023. This represents an increase in production of 23.9% over the 5 years and an average annual growth of almost 4.4%.

Biobased, non-biodegradable plastics, including drop-in solutions such as biobased PE (polyethylene) and biobased PP (polypropylene), are now becoming available in commercial quantities. Most significantly, new capacities are likely to come on stream in the latter part of the 2018 to 2023 period.

Innovative biopolymers

Innovative biopolymers such as PLA (polylactic acid) and PHA (polyhydroxyalkanoates) are predicted to grow in production capacity and demand in the coming years, albeit starting from a low production base in the case of PHA.

With the likely commercialization of PEF (polyethylene furanoate) in 2023, seen by some as a potential replacement for polyethylene terephthalate (PET), the bioplastics market could experience a substantial uplift in demand. Avantium, a Dutch renewable chemicals company, is developing PEF and its flagship plant is scheduled for start-up in 2023.

Production capacity growth

Production capacity for all bioplastic materials is forecast to rise by almost 7% in 2022 compared with 2021 and by 11% in 2023 compared with 2022. These are solid numbers indicative of the investment occurring in the industry at present.

Packaging remains the largest field of application for bioplastics with 1.2175 million tons, accounting for almost 58% of the total bioplastics market in 2018.

It is true to say that the growth in the FMCG bioplastics packaging market has not been as rapid as some would have envisaged. However, demand is rising and more innovative and sophisticated biopolymers are poised to have a major impact on the market.

There is little doubt that the prospect of government regulations against single-use plastics in many countries, not least the EU, is likely to impact on the plastic packaging market, increasing biodegradable plastics production and demand as a result.

Coca-Cola’s hybrid bottle

In August 2019, Coca-Cola bottled water brand DASANI announced the introduction of the Hybrid Bottle. This is Coca-Cola’s first US market pack to be made from a mixture of 50% plant based renewable material (the PlantBottle) and recycled PET. The Hybrid Bottle will be available nationwide in 20oz bottles from mid-2020.

Tetra Pak’s paper straws

In July 2019, Tetra Pak announced that customers had started field-testing its paper straws for beverage products in Europe. The move means the company is the first carton packaging company to provide such straws for beverage cartons in the region. Most importantly, Tetra Pak also announced its intention to publish and share its innovations on paper straw developments to support industrial collaboration on the alternatives to single-use plastic straws for beverage cartons.

Article compiled from a recent Innova Market Insights Packaging Insider report: “The Global Bioplastics FMCG Packaging Market” written by UK packaging expert, Neil Farmer, Neil Farmer Associates.

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