European Bioplastics releases 2016 market forecast

By Erin Voegele | October 16, 2012

European Bioplastics, an industry association, has released results of its latest market forecast, which is published annually in cooperation with the Institute for Bioplastics and Biocomposites from the University of Hanover. According to the analysis, above average positive development in the global bioplastics industry has made past projections obsolete. Overall, the bioplastics industry is expected to experience a fivefold increase in production volumes by 2016.

The analysis shows that approximately 1.2 million metric tons of bioplastic production capacity was online in 2011. By 2016, capacity is expected to increase to 5.8 million metric tons.

According to European Bioplastics, the most significant growth is expected to be in the production of non-biodegradable bioplastics, especially biobased polyethylene (PE) and polyethylene terephthalate (PET).

Partially biobased PET currently accounts for approximately 40 percent of global bioplastics production capacity. The market forecast projects that the production capacity for partially biobased PET will continue to increase through 2016, reaching 4.6 million metric tons, or 80 percent of total bioplastic production capacity.

Hasso von Pogrell, managing director of European Bioplastics, said that the production capacity of biodegradable bioplastics will also continue to grow. “Their productioncapacity will increase by two-thirds by 2016,” he said, with biobased polylactic acid (PLA) and polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) leading this growth.

The analysis also shows while Europe and North America import in terms of research and development activities, and sales markets, the establishment of new production capacity is expected to be focused in South America and Asia.

According to data released by European Bioplastics, bioplastic production increased substantially over the past few years, from 249,000 metric tons in 2009, to 1.16 million metric tons in 2011. By 2016, production capacity is expected to increase to 5.78 million metric tons, including 5 million metric tons of non-biodegradable bioplastics, and 776,000 of biodegradable bioplastics.

In 2011, non-biodegradable bioplastics represented just over 58 percent of production capacity, with biobased PET representing nearly 39 percent of that capacity. Biodegradable bioplastic production accounted for nearly 42 percent of production capacity, with biobased PLA representing the largest proportion of that capacity, at 16.1 percent.

By 2016, non-biodegradable bioplastics are expected to account for 86.6 percent of production capacity, with biobased PET increasing to more than 80 percent of that total. Alternatively, biodegradable bioplastics are projected to account for 13.4 percent of bioplastic production capacity, with biobased PLA representing 5.1 percent of that capacity.

According to European Bioplastics, Asia had the most bioplastic production capacity online in 2011, with 34.6 percent. The relative totals for South America, Europe, North America and Australia were 32.8 percent, 18.5 percent, 13.7 percent and 0.4 percent.

In 2016, Asia is expected to be home to 46.3 percent of global bioplastic production capacity. South America projected to have almost as much capacity in place, with 45.1 percent of the total. Europe, North America and Australia are expected to represent a relative 4.9 percent, 3.5 percent and 0.2 percent of global production capacity.