Biome is leading the £3m UK project into chemicals research for the development of bioplastics
A new market study on the wordwide production capacity of biobased polymers has predicted an increase from 5.7 million tonnes in 2014 to nearly 17 million tonnes in 2020, however, Europe is set to lose a significant market share.
The data in the study, conducted by Germany’s nova-Institute, shows a 10 percent growth in biobased polymers from 2012 to 2013 and an 11 percent increase from 2013 to 2014. However, growth rate is expected to decrease in 2015 as a consequence of the low oil prices.
The most dynamic development is foreseen for drop-in bio-based polymers, but this is closely followed by new bio-based polymers. Drop-in bio-based polymers are chemically identical to their petrochemical counterparts but at least partially derived from biomass.
This group is spearheaded by partly bio-based polyethylene terephthalate (PET), largely due to the Plant PET Technology Collaborative (PTC) initiative launched by The Coca-Cola Company.
The second most dynamic development is foreseen for polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA), which, contrary to bio-based PET, are new polymers, but still have similar growth rates to those of bio-based PET. Polybutylene succinate (PBS) and polylactic acid (PLA) are showing impressive growth as well: their production capacities are expected to almost quadruple between 2014 and 2020.
Most investment in new bio-based polymer capacities will take place in Asia because of better access to feedstock and favorable political framework. Europe’s share is projected to decrease from 15.4 percent to 4.9 percent, and North America’s share is set to fall from 14 percent to 4.1 percent, whereas Asia’s is predicted to increase from 58.1 percent to 80.6 percent. South America is likely to remain constant with a share between 10 percent and 12 percent.
In other words, says nova-Institute, world market shares are expected to shift dramatically. Asia is predicted to experience most of the developments in the field of bio-based building block and polymer production, while Europe and North America are slated to lose more than two thirds of their shares.