Production of bioplastics

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 2.1 million tonnes in 2019, 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.

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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

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