Freedonia Group forecasts explosive surge in world bioplastic demand

Are bioplastics finally finding their groove? A newly released market study by the Freedonia Group predicts that global demand for biobased and biodegradable plastics will rise 19 percent per year, to 950,000 metric tons in 2017.

According to this study, the bioplastics industry, while still in the emerging growth phase, has established itself as a fixture in a number of commercial markets and applications. Robust growth in demand is expected in virtually all geographic markets, stimulated by consumer preferences for sustainable materials, the increased adoption of bioplastics by plastic processors and compounders, and new product development that expands the range of uses for bioplastics.

Although starch-based resins and polylactic acid (PLA) will remain the leading bioplastic products through 2017, together accounting for over 60 percent of demand, the most rapid gains in demand are expected for biobased commodity resins such as polyethylene and polypropylene, which are just beginning to enter the commercial market. The rapid adoption of these bioplastics will be fueled by their ability to be used as a "drop-in" for existing applications, as well as an increased focus on biobased content rather than biodegradability as a desired attribute. By 2022, biobased polyethylene terephthalate (PET) is also expected to become available in commercial quantities and begin to penetrate the beverage container market....

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