Bioplastics to pass the 1m tonne mark in 2011

Paul Boughton
Global bioplastics production capacity will more than double from 2010 to 2015. Capacity is predicted to pass the one million tonne mark already in 2011, according to a current study presented today by the industry association European Bioplastics in co-operation with the University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Hanover at the interpack trade fair in Dusseldorf.

From a figure of around 700,000 tonnes in 2010, the production capacity for bioplastics will increase to a predicted 1.7 million tonnes by 2015. The current year will see capacity pass an important threshold: the first half of 2011 already shows production capacity exceeding 900,000 tonnes. The million tonne mark is close, and will likely be passed by the bioplastics industry within this year.

"The encouraging trend in production capacity allows us to assume, that the figures presented today will even be exceeded in the coming years," explains Hasso von Pogrell, Managing Director of European Bioplastics.

A further change is evident in the composition of global production volume. In 2010, the bioplastics branch primarily produced biodegradable materials, totalling around 400,000 tonnes (compared to 300,000 tonnes of biobased commodity plastics). This ratio will be reversed in the coming years – despite overall growth.

“Our market study shows that biobased commodity plastics, with a total of around one million tonnes, will make up the majority of production capacity in 2015. Biodegradable materials will, however, also grow substantially and will reach about 700,000 tonnes by then,” explains Professor Dr (Eng) Hans-Josef Endres of the University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Hanover.

Essential to this rapid growth is the swift expansion of bioplastics into an ever-increasing number of applications. From packaging to car manufacture to toys, carpets and electronic components – bioplastics are in demand as never before. The strongly growing group of dura-ble biobased bioplastics appeals strongly to the packaging market, for example. Several large brand producers such as Danone and Coca-Cola have brought products to market.

Europe is the world’s largest and most interesting market for bioplastics and is the leader in research and development. The number of production facilities, in contrast, is growing most markedly in Asia and South America.

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