Production of bioplastics

The biobased and/or biodegradable plastics market is in a state of constant evolution. For the past several years, it has witnessed major developments in production capabilities of biobased and non-biodegradable polymers.

With a production capability of 2 million tonnes in 2017, bioplastics represent approximately 0.75% of the global polymers market. Almost a half of this quantity concerns the production of biodegradable polymers, regardless of their origin.

Today, one polymer represents more than a quarter of the global production capabilities, biobased PET, and the primary geographical zones of production are Asia followed by Europe and North America.

bioplastics materials 2017

All the characteristics of the various bioplastics may be summarised in the following table: 

 

Materials*Origin / End-of-life ResourcesPropertiesApplications
Sustainable (BioPET, BioPE, BioPA, etc.)20 to 100% biobased, non-biodegradable and non-compostableSugarcane, molasses, vegetable oilsEquivalent to traditional polymers, remain recyclable, non-biodegradable, ease of useAll types of packaging, technical parts, etc.
PLA100% biobased and 100% biodegradable and compostableStarch (maize), sugarcane, sugar beet, tapioca, etc.Transparent, rigid, low thermal resistance, low barrier propertiesAgro-food packaging (containers, films, cups, etc.), cosmetics, injected parts, biocomposites, etc.
PHAs100% biobased and 100% biodegradable and compostableStarch (maize), sugar (sugarcane, sugar beet), biomass, etc.Opaque to translucent, rigid to elastomeric, good thermal resistance and barrier propertiesBiocomposites, injected parts, packaging film, etc.
BiopolyestersPartially biobased and 100% biodegradable and compostableSugarcane, starch, etc.Opaque to translucent, rigid to flexible, good thermal resistanceBag manufacturing, mulching film, vials, injected parts, etc.
Cellulosic derivativesPredominantly biobased and may be biodegradable and compostableWood pulpTransparent, rigid, good thermal properties, mechanical, and barrier propertiesAgro-food packaging (film), injected parts, etc.
BioelastomersPartially biobased and/or 100% biodegradable and compostableDifferent biobased polyols (vegetable oils, sugars, etc.)Very flexible, good mechanical properties and easily transformableTechnical and injected parts primarily
Starch-based compoundsPartially biobased and may be biodegradable and compostableStarch (corn, potatoe, etc.), floursFlexible, sensitive to moisture, controlled biodegradationBag manufacturing, mulching film, horticulture, etc.
BiocompositesPartially biobased and may be biodegradable and compostableWood fibres, hemp, flax, bamboo and bioplastic or conventional matrixRigid, good mechanical and thermal resistance, easily transformableTechnical and injected parts primarily