Results of the European Bioplastics’ annual market data update has shown a stable growth for the global bioplastics sector.
Announced at the 13th European Bioplastics Conference in Berlin, the global bioplastics production capacity is set to increase from around 2.1 million tonnes in 2018 to 2.6 million tonnes in 2023.
Biopolymers such as PLA and PHA are driving this growth, which are both bio-based, biodegradable and feature a wide range of mechanical properties, said European bioplastics.
PHA is entering the market at a larger commercial scale, with production capacity set to quadruple in the next five years, while production capacities of PLA are set to double by 2023.
Bio-based, non-biodegradable plastics, including PE and PET, currently make up around 50% (1 million tonnes) of the global production capacities.
The production of bio-based PE is estimated to continue to expand as new capacities are planned to come in line within Europe in the coming years.
For bio-based PET, increase in capacities have not been realised at the rate predicated, instead, the focus has been on the development of PEF, a new polymer that is expected to enter the market in 2023.
PEF is comparable to PET, but is fully bio-based with thermal properties, making it ideal for beverage bottles, according to European Bioplastics.
Packaging has remained the largest applicated field for bioplastics with almost 1.2 million tonnes (65%) of the total bioplastics market in 2018.
The data also showed that bioplastics materials are already being used in sectors including textiles, consumer goods and applicated in automotive, and agriculture.
Asia remained a major production hub with over 50% of bioplastics currently being produced there, while only one fifth of the production capacity is located in Europe.
This share is predicted to grow to up to 27% by 2023 and will be supported by recently adopted policies in several European Member States, such as Italy and France.
The land used to grow the renewable feedstock for the production of bioplastics is estimated to be 0.8 million hectares in 2018, and in the next five years it is predicted that the land use share for bioplastics will remained around 0.02%.
European Bioplastics managing director Hasso von Pogrell said: “The global market for bioplastics is predicted to grow by roughly 25 percent over the next five years. This trend is possible thanks to the increasing demand for sustainable products by both consumers and brands alike, stronger policy support for the bioeconomy, and the continuous efforts of the bioplastics industry to develop innovative materials with improved properties and new functionalities.”