Production of bioplastics
With a production capability of 2.1 million tonnes in 2018, 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, biobased PET, represents more than a quarter of the global production capabilities and the primary geographical zones of production are Asia followed by Europe and North America.
All the characteristics of the various bioplastics may be summarised in the following table:
|Materials*||Origin / End-of-life||Resources||Properties||Applications|
|Sustainable (BioPET, BioPE, BioPA, etc.)||20 to 100% biobased, non-biodegradable and non-compostable||Sugarcane, molasses, vegetable oils||Equivalent to traditional polymers, remain recyclable, non-biodegradable, ease of use||All types of packaging, technical parts, etc.|
|PLA||100% biobased and 100% biodegradable and compostable||Starch (maize), sugarcane, sugar beet, tapioca, etc.||Transparent, rigid, low thermal resistance, low barrier properties||Agro-food packaging (containers, films, cups, etc.), cosmetics, injected parts, biocomposites, etc.|
|PHAs||100% biobased and 100% biodegradable and compostable||Starch (maize), sugar (sugarcane, sugar beet), biomass, etc.||Opaque to translucent, rigid to elastomeric, good thermal resistance and barrier properties||Biocomposites, injected parts, packaging film, etc.|
|Biopolyesters||Partially biobased and 100% biodegradable and compostable||Sugarcane, starch, etc.||Opaque to translucent, rigid to flexible, good thermal resistance||Bag manufacturing, mulching film, vials, injected parts, etc.|
|Cellulosic derivatives||Mostly biobased and may be biodegradable and compostable||Wood pulp||Transparent, rigid, good thermal properties, mechanical, and barrier properties||Agro-food packaging (film), injected parts, etc.|
|Bioelastomers||Partially biobased and/or 100% biodegradable and compostable||Different biobased polyols (vegetable oils, sugars, etc.)||Very flexible, good mechanical properties and easily transformable||Technical and injected parts primarily|
|Starch-based compounds||Partially biobased and may be biodegradable and compostable||Starch (corn, potatoe, etc.), flours||Flexible, sensitive to moisture, controlled biodegradation||Bag manufacturing, mulching film, horticulture, etc.|
|Biocomposites||Partially biobased and may be biodegradable and compostable||Wood fibres, hemp, flax, bamboo and bioplastic or conventional matrix||Rigid, good mechanical and thermal resistance, easily transformable||Technical and injected parts primarily|