Consumers’ quest for more sustainable packaging has becoming a driving force in the increased use of bioplastic materials, creating a promising outlook for this growing market segment, according to a recent study by Transparency Market Research, a global market intelligence company.
However, the complications associated with the production of bioplastic packaging materials through agro-based raw materials, coupled with the increasing production of crude oil and natural gas in the Middle East and Russia (leading to reduced oil prices), is anticipated to pose a threat to the overall growth of the bioplastic packaging market over the forecast period. Other factors which could hamper the market growth include high cost of biodegradable plastics as compared to petro plastics, as well as performance, durability and quality concerns.
A plastic material can be called “bioplastic” if it is either bio-based or biodegradable, or possesses both the properties. The term “bio-based” means that the material or product is (partly) a resultant of biomass (plants). Biomass used for bioplastics is produced from the stems of crops, such as corn or sugarcane. Biodegradation refers to a chemical process under which microorganisms that are present in the environment transform materials into natural substances, such as water, carbon dioxide and compost.
However, users are often not clear with the term “biodegradation.” A bioplastic called “polylactic acid” is derived from the plant feedstock and is not biodegradable. This proves that bioplastics are not always biodegradable. However, PET bio-plastic is recyclable just like PET made from natural gas and oil feedstock, as they are chemically the same.
Bioplastic packaging refers to use of bioplastics in packaging materials. The global bioplastics packaging market is expected to witness a strong growth owing to the increasing consumer awareness about nature friendly products and changing inclination of consumers towards sustainable products. Other growth drivers for the bioplastic packaging market include increased focus on sustainable packaging by brand owners and retail companies, global rise in implementation of plastic bag bans, etc.
The bioplastics packaging market can be segmented on the basis of end-use industry into food and beverages, pharmaceuticals industry, electronics, and others. On the basis of material type, the market can be segmented into bio-PET, PLA and blends, starch blends, bio-PE and others. On the basis of product type, the market can be segmented as flexible packaging and rigid packaging.
In terms of geography, Europe is expected to be largest market for biodegradable plastics, in view of the strict government regulations against usage of non-recyclable plastic in the region. The European government has been taking major steps for increasing the usage of bio-based products for sustainable environment. Even the Government of India has also been taking measures against the usage of plastic bags, which in turn is expected to have a positive impact on growth of the global bioplastics packaging market. The market in Europe is anticipated to be followed by the Asia Pacific market, due to presence of a large consumer base and awareness about bioplastic materials in the region.
Key players in the bioplastics packaging market include BASF, Novamont, Arkema, Natureworks, Braskem, Acetati, Albis Plastics, Bayer Material Science, Biome Bioplastics, Biopearls, Innova Films and IFS chemicals. Majority of the key players in the market are currently focusing on making the best use of bioplastics to develop innovative packaging ideas.
Mergers and acquisitions have been a recent trend adopted by major players in the bio plastic market. For instance, in 2014, Novamont (Italy) acquired 78%shares of JV Mater Biopolymer srl (Italy), and intended to purchase the remaining shares of the company in 2016. JV Mater Biopolymer srl owns a production facility at Patrica, Italy, which was quite popular at the global level, and an ideal plant for Novamont for production of its Orio B range of polyesters. These polymers are used to improve the technical, economic, and environmental characteristics of Master –Bi, Navomont’s range of biodegradable and compostable bioplastics.