The global biodegradable plastics market has made robust progress over the last few years due to growing government support and popularity due to widespread awareness about their benefits in terms of environmental conservation. Driven by the steady march of capitalism, the plastics sector has become a highly influential part of the global economy, but hasn’t been able to overcome the adverse environmental effects of conventional plastics. Plastic pollution has thus become a key concern in several countries across the development spectrum, making the biodegradable plastics market extremely important.
According to Transparency Market Research (TMR), the global biodegradable plastics market is expected to reach a valuation of US$17.6 bn by 2023. The market was valued at US$9.1 bn in 2016 and is likely to exhibit a robust 9.9% CAGR therein.
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Steady Innovation Crucial in Growth of Biodegradable Plastics Market
The global biodegradable plastics market has been sustained by rapid innovation, which has enabled the development of several viable methods of producing biodegradable plastics. Recycling conventional plastics into biodegradable variants has been a crucial part of the research landscape in the global biodegradable plastics industry, since this also eliminates the problem of growing plastic waste in addition to providing a sustainable way of production for the biodegradable plastics market.
Western Europe has been a leading regional player in terms of environmental innovation and thus plays a key role in the development of the global biodegradable plastics market. Two important developments in the global biodegradable plastics market occurred in Europe in June 2017: The discovery of a new pyrolysis technique by researchers at SYNPOL, an EU-funded project, and the development of biodegradable plastics from sugar and carbon dioxide by researchers at the University of Bath.
SYNPOL discovered a pyrolysis technique involving the simultaneous use of heat and microwave radiation to decompose organic waste into carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and hydrogen, a mixture known as syngas and one that can be used to develop building blocks for biodegradable plastic polymers. The syngas developed by SYNPOL’s technique even contains less carbon dioxide and more carbon monoxide than conventional mixtures, which makes it even more valuable. The gases are turned into building blocks for biodegradable plastics by genetically engineered microbes.
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Researchers at the Centre for Sustainable Chemical Technologies at the University of Bath developed a new form of biodegradable polycarbonates made from sugar and carbon dioxide that could replace conventional plastics. While conventional polycarbonates use harmful ingredients such as BPA and phosgene, the new material can be recycled readily or even reconverted into carbon dioxide and sugar by using soil bacteria. The manufacturing process of the new biodegradable plastic is also remarkable in that it can be conducted at room temperature and low pressures, which represents a significant technological advance for the global biodegradable plastics market.
Packaging Industry Likely to Lead Demand from Biodegradable Plastics Market
The global biodegradable plastics market is segmented by end use into packaging, textile, agriculture, electronic, injection molding, and the healthcare sector. Of these, the packaging industry is likely to remain the leading contributor to the global biodegradable plastics market in the coming years, due to the intrinsic need to dispose of packaging material after extracting the packaged item. The food and beverage industry is thus likely to be a key consumer in the global biodegradable plastics market due to the rising demand for packaged food across the world.
Geographically, Europe is likely to retain its dominant share in the global biodegradable plastics market in the coming years, supported by the promising research and development scenario in Western and Central European countries. Steady government support in many European countries to the development of long-term strategies to eradicate the threat of plastic waste is a key driver for the global biodegradable plastics market. Europe is likely to account for more than a third of the global biodegradable plastics market by 2023.