“The importance of a more than 200 percent growth rate within the next five years cannot be overstated.”
Speaking at the 16th EUBP Conference, which is taking place as a hybrid event on 30 November and 1 December in Berlin, François de Bie, Chairman of European Bioplastics sounded jubilant.
“Before 2026, the share of bioplastics in the total global production of plastics will pass the two percent mark for the first time. Our formula of success is a strong belief in the abilities of our industry, the aspiration for continuous innovation, and the courage to make the necessary financial investments,” he said.
At the conference, European Bioplastics presented its annual review of the development of the global bioplastics industry, based on market data compiled in collaboration with the nova-Institute in Hürth, Germany.
The data present a positive outlook, with production set to more than triple over the next five years: from around 2.4 million tonnes in 2021 to 7.5 million tonnes in 2026.
According to this latest forecast, the production of biodegradable PBAT (polybutylene adipate terephthalate) will almost quadruple during this period, while PBS (polybutylene succinate) and bio-based PAs (polyamides) will also contribute significantly to this growth. Polylactic acid (PLA) capacity will continue to grow due to further investments in PLA production sites in Asia, the US, and in Europe, while the production of bio-based polyolefins was also shown to be on the rise.
Biodegradable plastics, including PBAT, PLA, and PBS currently account for slightly over 64 percent - 1.5 million tonnes - of global bioplastics production capacities. Bio-based, non-biodegradable plastics, such as the drop-in solutions bio-based PE, bio-based PET and bio-based PA, make up almost 36 percent, or 0.8 million tonnes of the total.
The main field of application for bioplastics of all kinds continues to be packaging, which has a market share of almost 48 percent, or 1.2 million tonnes. However, bioplastics use is also climbing in many other sectors, and the portfolio of application continues to diversify.
In terms of regional capacity development, the figures show that Asia has further strengthened its position as a major bioplastics production hub. Almost 50 percent of bioplastics are currently being produced in the region. While Europe still boasts almost a fourth of the world’s bioplastics production capacity, its share and that of other regions in the world regionsis forecast to shrink within the next five years. In contrast, Asia will pass the 70 percent mark by 2026.
While land use is an often debated issue in the bioplastics discussion, these latest data illustrate that an estimated 0.7 million hectares were used in 2021 to grow the renewable feedstock for the production of bioplastic; just over 0.01 percent of the global agricultural area of 5 billion hectares. As the production capacity increases over the next five years, the land use share for bioplastics will increase to just below 0.06 percent.
“In relation to the available agricultural area, this share is still minimal. Thus, there is no competition between the renewable feedstock for food and feed and the production of bioplastics” concluded Hasso von Pogrell, Managing Director of European Bioplastics.
“Over 90 percent of the global agricultural area is used for pasture, feed and food.”