The German-based Nova Institute has predicted a three-fold increase in the consumption of biodegradable and compostable plastic products in Europe from 2015 to 2020.
The private institute's study "Consumption of biodegradable and compostable plastic products in Europe" found that about two-thirds of all products on the market were compostable bags, mainly used for shopping or the collection of biowaste.
It found that 100,000 tonnes were used in 2015, but market demand could grow to around 300,000 tonnes by 2020.
The research team analyzed the consumption of biodegradable polymers such as polylactic acid or starch-based plastics by application, geography and polymer type across Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland and Scandinavia.
Compostable plastic bags dominated the market for biodegradable plastics in Europe.
The legal framework and composting infrastructure of European Union member states were found to be either the bottleneck or the key driver for market development.
Nova's managing director Michael Carus, said: “It was amazing to see that businesses have found a real market and product focus.”
Nova researchers also found that a variety of bio-based PLA cups and containers used for service and retail packaging were being sold in significant volumes.
PLA is used for a broad spectrum of applications, ranging from non-woven fiber products or apparel, to beverage bottles and packaging foams.