A report from Smithers Pira expects global bioplastics for packaging industry to be worth $7.2bn, at an average rate of 17% per year between 2017 and 2022.
According to the report – The Future of Bioplastics for Packaging to 2022, bioplastids for packaging markets presently has a small share of global plastic packaging market value, but it is expected to grow strongly – increasing more than twice in value across the forecast period.
The report says that those organisations which can offer solutions to key challenges facing commercial adaptation of bioplastics in packaging will be the ones that can succeed.
This involves identifying opportunities where premium can be expected for naturally sourced products that overcome biopolymers negative cost competitiveness versus petro-polymers caused by the falls in world crude oil prices since mid-2014.
Apart from this, in packaging applications where it is technically possible to replace oil-based polymers with bioplastics, suppliers will also have to manage the problems of high production costs, capital availability and limited availability of bio-based feedstock over the coming years.
Report author Vlad Savinov said: “While the potential market for bioplastics is huge, consumption rates will depend on whether producers can grow their production capabilities fast enough and at acceptable cost/performance levels to meet demand. Decades ago, the oil refinery and petrochemical industry successfully implemented the use of added-value business models.
“These business models generated high levels of profit by integrating the supply chain from the oil well head all the way through chemicals and polymer production. This allowed producers to operate an integrated raw material and polymer complex with very few middle-men and therefore captured profit at each level of the supply chain.
“It is expected that the biopolymer sector will adapt an added-value business model in a similar way. Unlike oil refineries, a bio-refinery will be capable of processing many different types of biomass, including sugars, cellulose and various plant oils.”
The report stated that emergence of new technologies in the near future can ensure in developing new types of polymers and improved ways of producing biopolymes for various end-use applications.
As per the report, Europe is expected to be the largest market with 31% share of the global bioplastic packaging consumption. Though it is now at the forefront of R&D, but it could produce only 10% with a diminishing share of consumption by 2022.
Most of the currently planned volume production facilities are being implemented in Thailand, India and China, and over three-quarters of bioplastics will be produced in Asia by 2022.
In terms of end-use categories, non-food is the largest area of application for bioplastics packaging in 2017, which accounts for about 46% of global consumption. The result is that bioplastics will be increasingly used in producing garbage bags and carry-out bags.
Food is the second-largest end-use sector, followed by beverage bottles. Bioplastic beverage bottle consumption has grown dramatically since 2012, following the introduction of bio-derived PET for soft drinks bottles, and will account for almost 22% of bioplastics for packaging consumption in 2017.