As Plastic Regulations and Bans Increase, Market Value for Biodegradable Polymers Exceeds $1 Billion. That is what this really all about! EXPECT Demand to Rise Sharply by 2023. That’s in part according to IHS Markit.
In addition, Western Europe’s the largest market for biodegradable plastics. Theregion tightened restrictions on plastic shopping bags. Their regulation is the most significant demand driver.
Biodegradable or compostable polymers are bio-based or fossil-fuel-based polymers (plastics). They undergo microbial decomposition to carbon dioxide and water in industrial or municipal compost facilities. A few of these polymers decompose in backyard compost bins or in soil, freshwater or saltwater.
Foam packaging, which includes starch-based loose-fill packaging (packing peanuts). That is a significant end-use for biodegradable polymers in Western Europe and North America. For example mulch films and other agricultural applications. There are important end uses in Western Europe and Asia. Smaller-volume markets include paper coatings for cups and cartons. That includes, textiles, nonwoven fabrics, resorbable medical devices such as sutures and implants, downhole tools for oil and gas field operations, and 3-D printing filament.
Western Europe, with the world’s strictest and increasingly stringent regulations for single-use plastics, commands 55 percent of the global market value in 2018 for these specialty biodegradable polymers, followed by Asia and Oceania (Australia and New Zealand) at 25 percent, then North America at 19 percent of consumption, with the rest of the world combined for less than 1 percent of demand.
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According to IHS Markit, global demand for PE, the world’s most-used plastic, has nearly doubled during the last 20 years. IHS Markit expects 2018 global PE demand to exceed 100 million metric tons (MMT).
Despite the positive potential of biodegradable polymers, they are still mostly taking a backseat to other sustainability approaches. For example, reducing plastics consumption and recycling according to Hackett.
“For various reasons, which may include consumer confusion regarding bio-based plastics versus biodegradable polymers, there is not as much demand for these more sustainable plastics as you might expect, despite heightened public awareness of the plastics waste issue,” she said. “In addition, suitable disposal options for products made from biodegradable polymers are often lacking. The cost of establishing the infrastructure necessary to support their collection and composting remains a barrier to demand growth.”
The issue of plastics and sustainability will be a key topic of discussion at the upcoming 6th Annual Global Plastics Summit (GPS) 2018, October 30 – November 1, in Chicago. Experts from IHS Markit and the Plastics Industry Association will discuss the latest market outlooks from key industry sectors. Also, they will feature senior business leaders sharing their companies’ strategies for success. Expect also innovators presenting the latest in plastics technologies. Bob Maughon, R&D vice president, Packaging and Specialty Plastics and Hydrocarbons, The Dow Chemical Company, will discuss sustainability as a catalyst for innovation in packaging. Don Thomson, president of The Center for Regenerative Design and Collaboration, will address turning plastic waste into building blocks.
Composting has the potential to become a more important means of MSW disposal. Especially for food waste and yard trimmings. According to the report, together, these two categories of waste accounted for 28 percent of U.S. MSW generation in 2014! In the case of yard trimmings, 31 percent of the waste generated was landfilled. Then 61 percent was composted, and the remaining 8 percent was combusted with energy recovery.
Most important is market forces are increasing concerns about plastic waste in the environment. This is what’s contributing to demand and now biodegradable polymers worldwide. In 2015, China’s Jilin Province issued a ban on non-biodegradable plastic bags. This also included and food service items, boosting bioplastics manufacturing in China. Also there are favorable policies for biodegradable polymers at the national level.
In India, the biodegradable polymer market is still at a preliminary stage. Also with few players in the segment. However, India seems to be taking the lead in Asia. In 2012, the Delhi government issued an order imposing a ban. The ban is on the use, storage, sale and manufacture of single-use plastic carrier (shopping) bags in the city. In other parts of the country, use of these bags is a finable offense. However, India has a significant challenge with plastic pollution and mismanaged municipal waste.
In conclusion, TOTAL Corbion PLA, a joint venture of energy producer. TOTAL and lactic-acid producer Corbion, plans to start up. Yes folks! A world-scale polylactic-acid facility in Thailand by the end of 2018.
The U.S. accounts for the bulk of production for these polymers. Thailand, with its proximity to growing markets in Southeast Asia works too. WHY? Cause its expanding bio-economy. Also, it’s favorable investment climate and stable government. However, access to cost-effective sugarcane feedstocks for fermentation. YES! Finally! It’s becoming an increasingly important contributor to the biodegradable polymers market.
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