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The Future Will Be Dominated by Biodegradable Plastics

Jun. 01, 2020

The actions of "restricting or stopping the use of plastic bags and other disposable plastic products such as straws", initiated by Western European countries will further promote the market demand for biodegradable plastics. Will biodegradable plastics dominate the future?

The analysis of the world-renowned consulting company IHS Markit pointed out that the "restrict or stop the use of plastic bags and other disposable plastic products such as straws" initiated by Western European countries will further promote the market demand for biodegradable plastics.

Biodegradable Bag

Biodegradable Bag

The global market for biodegradable plastics exceeded the US $ 1.1 billion in 2018. IHS Markit predicts that by 2023, the global market for biodegradable bags is expected to reach US $ 1.7 billion.

In 2018, the global demand for biodegradable polymers was 360,000 metric tons, but IHS predicts that by 2023, the global consumption of biodegradable bag may increase by more than 50% to 550,000 metric tons, which means that from 2018 to During the five years in 2023, the annual average growth rate of global biodegradable polymer consumption can reach 9%.

Biodegradable or compostable polymers refer to bio-based or fossil-fuel-based polymers that can be decomposed into carbon dioxide and water by microorganisms in industrial or municipal composting bases. Even some polymers can be biodegraded directly in the backyard compost bins of individual homes and in soil, freshwater, or saltwater environments.

The fastest growth in food packaging

Biodegradable bag supplier believes that: food packaging, disposable tableware (including cups, plates, knives, and forks, etc.) and plastic bags are the largest end-user market for biodegradable goods and the most important growth engine. These areas will benefit from the “plastic restriction order” or “plastic prohibition order” of government departments in various countries and regions and are expected to achieve double-digit growth.

Composting bags are the second most important end market for biodegradable polymers. This market will grow strongly with the expansion of composting facilities and the growing interest in organic waste such as leaves, grass clippings, and food waste in landfills.

Foam packaging, including starch-based loose filler packaging (such as nut packaging), is an important end-user of biodegradable polymers in Western Europe and North America. Plastic film and other agricultural applications are important end-users of biodegradable polymers in Western Europe and Asia.

Small-volume markets include paper coatings for cups and cartons, woven and non-woven fabrics, and absorbable medical devices such as sutures and implants, downhole tools for oil and gas, and gas fields, and 3D printing brushing It is where biodegradable polymers come in.

The legislation is the driving force, composting facilities are the catalyst, and demand is greatest in Western Europe

Among them, in 2018, the most stringent regulations on the use of disposable plastic products in Western Europe, the consumption of biodegradable biopolymers accounted for about 55% of global consumption. Consumption in Asia and Oceania (Australia and New Zealand) accounts for approximately 25% of global consumption, 19% in North America, and less than 1% in other countries and regions.

"Biodegradable plastics, mainly starch-based compounds or polylactic acid-based materials, are becoming more cost-competitive than petroleum-based plastics, and market demand is also increasing significantly. Especially in Western Europe, where environmental regulations are the most stringent, There is a huge demand for biodegradable plastics, "said Marifaith Hackett, Director of Specialty Chemical Research at HS Markit." However, the market demand for biodegradable plastics is still small compared to the market demand for traditional plastics such as polyethylene. "

According to IHS MARKIT statistics, in the past 20 years, the demand for polyethylene, the world's most consumed plastic, has almost doubled. IHS MARIT expects global demand for polyethylene to exceed 100 million tons in 2018. However, new market pressures, including rising consumer expectations for sustainability and tightening environmental regulations in mature markets such as Europe and major growth markets such as China, may affect future demand for polyethylene.

"The performance and processability of biodegradable polymers have been improved, and their scope of application will be further expanded. But legislation is the most important demand driver for biodegradable polymers," Marifaith Hackett said. Non-biodegradable plastic bags, which will drive the market demand for biodegradable polymers in these countries. We expect more and more European countries to strengthen legislative restrictions. "

Landfills are still the main means of handling urban waste in the United States, with composting accounting for only 9%

In the United States, landfills are the most commonly used method of processing municipal solid waste. According to statistics from the US Environmental Protection Agency, in 2014, about 53% of urban domestic waste in the United States was treated by landfill. Another 26% is used for material recycling, and 13% are processed by energy recovery combustion. Only 9% of municipal solid waste is treated with compost.

The potential for composting to become an important way of waste disposal is still huge, especially in food waste and potential as a more important means of waste disposal, especially in the treatment of food waste and garden decoration waste. According to IHS MARIT analysis, in 2014, food waste and garden decoration waste accounted for 28% of the total amount of urban garbage in the United States! Of the garden decoration waste, 31% was landfilled, 61% was composted and the remaining 8% was burned With energy recovery.

In 2014, the amount of plastic waste processed by composting in the United States was negligible, and landfill is still the main disposal method. 75% of American plastic waste is processed by landfill, 15% of plastic waste is burned by energy recovery, and the remaining 9% is processed by recycling.

"Biodegradable or compostable polymers can play a role in transferring the waste from landfills. For example, coffee capsules made of biodegradable materials simplify the recycling of coffee capsules after use. Compostable garbage Bags can control odors, reduce confusion, reduce pest buildup, and reduce the 'nausea' factors associated with residential composting projects, "said Marifaith Hackett." Transferring organic waste from landfills can reduce methane emissions. Methane is an effective Greenhouse gas. We at IHS MARIT expect that biodegradable or compostable plastics will increasingly become an important part of sustainable development solutions, but most of their promotion and adoption will depend on legislation and consumer attitudes and behavior.

China and India have issued plastic bans one after another to promote the development of biodegradable polymers

People's attention to plastic waste in the environment has driven the global market's demand for biodegradable polymers. In 2015, the Jilin Province of China promulgated a non-biodegradable plastic bag and foodservice project, which promoted the development of China's bioplastic manufacturing industry. In addition to local policies, preferential policies for biodegradable polymers are also provided at the national level.

In India, the biodegradable polymer market is still in its infancy and few players in this field. Although India's law enforcement efficiency is flawed, India still issued a decree prohibiting the use of plastic bags, which still leads in Asia. In 2012, the Delhi government issued an injunction prohibiting the use, storage, sale and manufacture of the disposable plastic bags (shopping bags) in the city. In other parts of India, the use of such plastic bags will also be punished. Nonetheless, the ban has brought little change to India. India still faces major challenges of plastic pollution and improper urban waste management.



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