Global demand for biodegradable or plant-based plastic will quadruple by 2013. Rising oil prices and fossil fuel depletion is driving interest in the use of plant-based polymers. Bioplastics account for less than 10% of global plastics use, but sector growth is around 17-20% a year since 2006. The sector faces increasing regulation and more competition as large corporations move in on the industry.

That’s according to Research and Markets’ The Global Outlook for Biodegradable Packagingreport.

  • Currently there is not a good enough infrastructure in place to get optimum benefit from biodegradable packaging, even if it is widely available. Europe leads regulatory reform, with the U.S. trailing behind. Asia and Australia are making headway, but Asia (and in particular China) suffer from a confused approach.

  • Consumers are driving demand, with major retailers including Coca-Cola and Walmart getting on board. However, despite increased demand, the key cost barriers for suppliers are R&D costs, production costs, and economies of scale.

  • PLA dominates bioplastics use, but new materials are being developed from algae and microbacterial sources and advances in nanotechnology offer potential for interesting developments in smart packaging.

For more information on bioplastics, seeBioplastics: A product evolution or market revolution? published July 13.