Bioplastic materials are defined in the report as materials that are either biodegradable and compostable and derived from both renewable and non-renewable sources, or materials that are non-biodegradable and derived from renewable resources.
From 2010 bioplastic technology is expected to change with the commercialisation of bioplastics produced directly by natural/genetically modified (GM) organisms and the introduction of non-biodegradable, bio-derived polyethylene (PE). Pira expects these materials will account for a quarter of total bioplastic packaging market demand by 2020. Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA) are forecast to achieve a CAGR of 41% and bio-derived PE a staggering 83% over the period.
Traditional bioplastic packaging technologies based on starch, cellulose and polyester are each forecast to show a decline in market share to 2020.
Bioplastic packaging is a highly concentrated market with the top five suppliers currently accounting for over 50% of bioplastic packaging market demand. Pira predicts major changes among the leading ranks of bioplastic packaging suppliers over the next five to ten years. Large petrochemical companies including Braskem, Dow Chemicals and Solvay are scheduled to commence bio-derived PE production by 2012 at industrial-scale facilities in Brazil. These companies are expected to be propelled into the top rank of bioplastic producers over the next five years. Telles, the joint venture PHA producer, is also expected to become a major world player. Several Chinese companies are known to be investing in significant capacity expansion programmes that should propel them into leading market positions.
According to the study, major new technologies will emerge over the next ten years. US bioplastics producer Cereplast, for example, is planning to launch a range of all-natural algae-based resins by the end of 2010. Also, several companies are exploring the development of bioplastics using carbon dioxide as a raw material. The potential for a process that converts waste carbon dioxide into a useful product is huge, but whether the material produced using this technique will prove commercially viable will ultimately depend on whether these new polymers are cost effective to produce. A new sugar-based bioplastic that can be sourced from non-food crops and produced via a low energy process is also tipped to reach the market within the next five years.
Rigid packaging has a projected share of 52.0% of the bioplastic packaging market in 2010 according to Pira, with flexible packaging accounting for the remaining 48.0%. Retail and foodservice trays and containers are the largest single pack type for bioplastic packaging, followed by flexible film. Pira expects flexible packaging to take a growing share of the bioplastic packaging market over the next five to ten years. Adam Page, Head of Information at Pira, explains: "Demand will be driven by the commercialisation of bio-derived PE and PHA, and the wider availability and improved properties for biaxially oriented PLA (BOPLA) film."
Europe is the largest regional market for bioplastic packaging with over half of world tonnage in 2010. It benefits from favourable consumer and retail attitudes to sustainable packaging, supportive government policies towards packaging waste recycling and a well-developed composting infrastructure. Whilst North America currently trails Europe in terms of bioplastic packaging consumption, government and consumer attitudes are changing. Pira expects North America and Asia to show higher growth rates than Europe for bioplastic packaging over the forecast period. Japan accounts for the lion's share of Asian bioplastic packaging, mostly as a result of favourable government initiatives supporting bioplastic market development.