Smithers Pira’s latest market report, The Future of Bioplastics for Packaging to 2024 shows that the bioplastic for packaging applications will grow at an average annual rate of 16.2%,with market value more than doubling from $4.4 billion in 2019 to $8.8 billion in 2024, growing at an average annual rate of 15.0%. Bioplastics are rather recent additions to the portfolio of polymers available to manufacturers and users of packaging systems. Bioplastics’ share of plastics packaging markets is thus relatively modest, although forecast growth rates are very attractive.
With demand for these new materials within the global packaging markets, with all regions forecast to see double digit growth across the five years to 2024, The Future of Bioplastics for Packaging to 2024 identifies the following key trends driving the biopolymer industry today:
Plastics recycling - The state of the plastics recycling business environment will have a profound impact upon the incentives and urgency for developing biopolymers solutions to plastics-related environmental problems.
Polymers from natural raw materials - Naturally occurring polymers, such as starch and cellulose, will see significant extra demand for use in degradable plastics packaging applications.
Biodegradable aliphatic-aromatic polyester polymers – Aliphatic-aromatic polyester polymers use in packaging will grow. Demand will rise generally and in particular be supported by moves to outlaw oxo-biodegradable plastics, such as the EU’s proposal of May 2019.
A key challenge will be boosting heat resistance, barrier performance, and tensile strength to allow these to directly replace the current suite of oil based plastics, such as PET.
Polymers synthesized by microorganisms – Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) use in packaging will also growth. While not generally biodegradable, the biologically manufactured PHAs display physical properties roughly comparable to conventional PET polyesters. Thus, there is keen interest and activity to perfect and commercialise PHA production- and applications-related technologies.
Biomonomers – There is considerable research and development interest in identifying and perfecting commercially viable routes to these and other important industrial chemicals through biochemical processes. Industrial interests in these “green chemicals” are wide-ranging, including keen interest in their potential applications within the realm of biopolymer materials for packaging. Polylactic acid (PLA), bio-PET, and bio-polyolefins are the primary packaging plastics synthesized from biologically produced monomers.
Biotechnology companies - The forecast period of this report, through 2024, will be characterised by continued ferment, with new technologies and companies springing up. Many will quickly disappear from technical deficiencies or unsustainable business models. A relative few will prosper and grow, and many of these will be acquired by established biopolymers firms or ultimately by multinational chemicals and plastics firms.