Bioplastics in packaging continues to be a niche corner of the total plastics packaging market however various studies estimate that it is growing at a rapid pace. A report by Smithers Pira says that global bioplastics for packaging consumption is projected to reach 787,000 tons in 2015 with a market value of $2.4 billion, however that is expected to more than double to $5.9 billion by 2020.
Obviously the largest contributor to this growth is the increasing desire for sustainable packaging as food and beverage producers seek ways to reduce the amount of packaging used and to meet the goals for biodegradability and compostability. Other market drivers include the availability of new capacities to boost supply and the development of ‘drop-in’ bio-based solutions, said the Smithers Pira report.
Despite the advancements in bio-based technology and the increased demand, the report notes there are still drawbacks that stand in the way for the wider commercialization of bio-based polymers in many food and beverage applications. These include the high relative cost of bioplastics compared with petro-plastics, availability of raw materials, as well as issues of performance, quality/consistency and density, said Smithers Pira.
Performance issues have to do with the materials’ low melt temperatures which make shipping to hotter climates and during summer months a problem unless refrigerated trucks are used for transport. However, that increases the carbon footprint which many believe offsets any “green” benefits these bio-based materials might offer.
Ceresana, a market intelligence and consulting firm, estimates in a recent report that global demand is expected to increase by 18.9% in the future. “Global demand may be developing a decelerated growth rate when compared to previous years, but uninterrupted advancements in the development of the raw material base and property profiles lead to an ever broader range of possible applications,” said Ceresana’s report. “More and more often, the improved technical properties of bioplastics allow for a substitution of conventional plastics.”
New applications include bottles which are becoming more and more popular among beverage producers, such as Coca-Cola’s new PlantBottle, a PET bottle made with 30% renewable, sugarcane-based plants, and detergent makers. Also, products such as plastic cups, plates and dinnerware generally will be popular alternatives to traditional plastics due to the fact that the biodegradable products can be composted with the leftover food. It is expected that as capacity increases, material properties improve, and applications expand, bioplastics for packaging will become competitive with traditional petro-plastics.
Plastics Color creates environmentally sound solutions for colorants, resins, and additives and has introduced product lines that address your sustainability and biodegradability requirements. Get to know Plastics Color’s sustainable solutions such as our SoluPur (a range of sustainable product solutions incuding additives, compounds, color concentrates, liquid color, and masterbatches), and SoluPLAs.
SoluPLAs is a bioplastic polymer derived from renewable resources such as corn yet provides properties such as strength and clarity. SoluPLAs can meet a broad range of packaging applications developed to meet your color (which comes in solid or liquid form), opacity, or other requirements.
Visit our website for more information about how Plastics Color can help your company produce more sustainable products in packaging – www.plasticscolor.com.