Currently, bioplastics represent roughly one percent of the 335 million tonnes of plastic produced annually. But as demand is rising, and with more sophisticated biopolymers, applications, and products emerging, the market is continuously growing.
Innovative biopolymers such as PLA (polylactic acid) and PHAs (polyhydroxyalkanoates) are the main drivers of this growth in the field of bio-based, biodegradable plastics. PHAs are an important polymer family that has been in development for a while and that now finally enters the market at commercial scale, with production capacities estimated to quadruple in the next five years. These polyesters are 100 percent bio-based and biodegradable, and feature a wide array of physical and mechanical properties depending on their chemical composition.
Bio-based, non-biodegradable plastics, including the drop-in solutions bio-based PE (polyethylene) and bio-based PET (polyethylene terephthalate), as well as bio-based PA (polyamides), currently make up for around 48 percent (1 million tonnes) of the global bioplastics production capacities.
Europe is a major hub for the entire bioplastics industry; it ranks highest in the field of research and development and is the industry’s largest market worldwide.