Global Biodegradable Plastics Market: Oxo-biodegradable Plastics to Define Future Outlook of Market

Biodegradable plastics decompose in nature by the action of microorganisms. Rising demand for environment-friendly plastics, along with legislative support, has boosted the growth of the global biodegradable plastics market.  The rapidly growing packaging industry has further propelled the growth of the market. The global biodegradable plastics market is expected to expand at a CAGR of 9.9% during the period between 2015 and 2023. The overall market was worth US$7.6 bn in 2014 and is projected to reach a valuation of US$17.6 bn by 2023.

The manufacturing of biodegradable plastics includes fermentation of sugar to produce polylactic acid (PLA) or polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA). Petro-based and biobased biodegradable plastics are the two broad product segments of the global biodegradable plastics market. While high and fluctuating prices of petrochemical products have led to decreased demand for petro-based biodegradable plastics, it has opened new opportunities for the growth of the biobased biodegradable plastics segment.

Increase in Shelf Life of Perishable Food Drives Demand for Biodegradable Plastic Packaging

Among the major end-use application segments of the global biodegradable plastics market, packaging accounted for a majority share in 2014. Packaging includes beverage packaging, food packaging, and industrial packaging. Researchers at the National University of Singapore have created a new biodegradable packaging material that can increase the shelf life of perishable food products. The eco-friendly composite film is made up of natural ingredients such as grapefruit seed extract and chitosan – a biomaterial derived from crustacean shells. The researchers are planning to conduct further studies to improve the technology. However, the technology is costly; the film is 30% more expensive than the plastic films that are used presently.

Oxo-biodegradable Plastics Federation: New Industry Coalition to Promote Usage of Oxo-biodegradable Plastics

Oxo-biodegradable plastics are reported to biodegrade in the same way as a leaf or a blade of grass. While degrading, the material ceases to be a plastic and disappears without any traces of toxic residues. Instead, carbon dioxide, water, and biomass are released as biodegradable mass. However, critics have suggested that these oxo-biodegradable plastics do not actually biodegrade in the natural environment. This has led to negative reviews about oxo-biodegradable plastics. In fact, France proposed a ban on these plastics in 2014.

The negative publicity about oxo-biodegradable plastics has not deterred market players from focussing on research and development activities to study the appropriate usage of oxo-biodegradable products. A new global industry coalition, the Oxo-Biodegradable Plastics Federation (OBPF), has been officially launched on 1st February 2016 to promote awareness regarding the availability of oxo-biodegradable products as an alternative to existing products. Some of the founding members of the industry coalition are Add-X Biotech, Wells Plastics Ltd., Willow Ridge Plastics Inc., and EKM Developments.


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