Will bioplastics industry take off in the next five years?
At present, most plastics are made of petrochemical raw materials, which further increases the world's dependence on crude oil. Although people's awareness of the plastic problem is increasing, the global plastic production is still growing. The recent IDTechEx report bioplastics 2020-2025 predicts that by 2030, the plastic production will exceed 600 million tons, about 661 million tons.
Bioplastics is a kind of polymer extracted from biomass raw materials, which is a potential way to solve the plastic problem in the world. There are a wide range of existing bioplastics, from direct replacement of existing fossil plastics (embedded bioplastics) to new plastics produced by innovative methods, such as polyhydroxyfatty acid esters (PHA). Although only about half of the bioplastics produced in the world are biodegradable, their sources are renewable, and the industry is striving to improve the mechanical properties and reduce production costs of the biodegradable bioplastics.
Despite the environmental benefits, the bioplastics industry has yet to take off, with bankruptcy cases everywhere. Bioplastics are often much more expensive than petrochemicals, and consumers and businesses are reluctant to pay for them.
But now things are starting to change. Recent technology has made mass production of bio based polymers cheaper than ever before. Newlight technologies, a Californian start-up, claims that its aircarbon brand bioplastics costs less than traditional plastics, made from marine bacteria in dairy waste gases. In 2019, anellotech claimed that its commercial target for wood derived terephthalic acid, a precursor of some of the world's major plastics, had been met.
The next five years may be a critical period for the bioplastics industry. The new IDTechEx report bioplastics 2020-2025 has conducted an in-depth review of the scope of existing bioplastics. In the future, with the emergence of more new technologies, the cost of bioplastics may be greatly reduced, which will also improve the market competitiveness of bioplastics.