With the one-way economic model of “acquisition-manufacturing-disposal” of traditional petroleum-derived plastics, which has an increasingly large impact on the global environment, especially the marine ecological environment, the trend of the plastics industry shifting to a circular economy model is becoming more and more urgent.
In the framework of circular economy, the development of green renewable biomass resources is the top priority of today's research. Following this market situation, the trend of the transition from petrochemical plastics to bioplastics has become inevitable.
Key market-driven positive factors: PLA and PHAs are the main drivers
According to the survey, innovative biopolymers such as PLA and PHAs are the main market drivers for biodegradable bio-based plastics.
PHAs are important polymers that have been developed to a certain stage. Now commercial scale production is expected, and total production capacity is expected to increase fourfold in the next five years. Such polymers are 100% biobased, degradable and exhibit a wide range of physical and mechanical properties depending on the chemical composition.
On the other hand, it is expected that the total production capacity of PLA in 2023 will also increase by 60% compared with this year. PLA is a versatile material with excellent barrier properties and a high performance PLA grade, making it an excellent replacement for PS, PP and ABS for demanding applications.
In addition, other biobased, non-biodegradable plastics, including bio-based PE, bio-based PET and bio-based PA, are currently in the process of accounting for 48% (1 million tons) of the global bioplastics capacity. Bio-based PE is expected to continue to grow as new capacity will be launched in Europe in the next few years. However, bio-based PET production capacity has not increased at the rate expected in the early years.
On the contrary, another new polymer, PEF, which is expected to enter the market in 2023, has become the focus of the market. It is reported that PEF is similar to PET, but 100% biodegradable, and has excellent barrier properties and thermal performance, making it an excellent material for beverage, food and non-food packaging.
Bio-based PP, with its wide application in various fields, is expected to be put into commercial production in 2023, and has great room for development.
Similarly, bio-based PUR is another important class of polymers with large-scale production capacity and good market demand, and with its versatility, it is growing faster than the traditional PUR market.