Trade group publishes land use data for bioplastic feedstocks

By Erin Voegele | April 08, 2013

European Bioplastics has published data demonstrating that less than 0.006 percent of global agricultural area is currently required to grow feedstock for the bioplastics industry. According to the trade organization, the finding is based on figures sourced from the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations and calculations made by the University of Hannover’s Institute for Bioplastics and Biocomposites.

According to information released by European Bioplastics, approximately 1.2 million metric tons of bioplastic production capacity was online in 2011. “This translates to approximately 300,000 hectares of land use to grow feedstock for bioplastics,” said the organization in a statement. “In relation to the global agricultural area of 5 billion hectares, bioplastics make use of only 0.006 percent. Metaphorically speaking, this ratio correlates to the size of an average cherry tomato placed next to the Eiffel Tower.”

As such, the organization said it is clear that bioplastic production does not create competition for land used to cultivate food and feed products. By 2016, the organization predicts bioplastic production will grow to require approximately 1.1 million hectares of feedstock production, which equates to 0.022 percent of global agricultural area.

On the same day the data was released, European Bioplastics published a new brochure, titled “Bioplastics: Facts and Figures.” The brochure includes updated statistics on the bioplastic sector. According to the document, bioplastic production is set to increase 500 percent by 2016. The industry’s growth is expected to help drive evolution of Europe’s bioeconomy sector. In the brochure, European Bioplastics stresses that production capacities are growing fastest in areas outside of Europe, and that the European Union needs to implement favorable policies to help attract investment in the sector.