The global production capacity for bioplastics amounted to over 1 million tonnes in 2011. Following the technical trial facilities at the beginning of the 1990s and the subsequent upscaling phase, industrial-scale capacity has now been achieved. As more facilities go on-stream, production of bioplastics is projected to increase to nearly 6 million tonnes by the year 2016.
By far the strongest growth will be in the biobased, non-biodegradable bioplastics group. Especially the so-called ‘drop-in’ solutions, i.e. biobased versions of bulk plastics like PE and PET, that merely differ from their conventional counterparts in terms of their renewable raw material base, are building up large capacities. Leading the field is partially biobased PET, which was accounting for approximately 40 percent of the global bioplastics production capacity in 2011. This bioplastic will continue to extend its lead to more than 4.6 million tonnes by 2016. That would then correspond to 80 percent of the total bioplastics production capacity.
But also biodegradable plastics are demonstrating impressive growth rates. Their production capacity will increase by two-thirds by 2016. Leading contributors to this growth will be PLA and PHA, each of them accounting for 298,000 tonnes (+50 percent) and 142,000 tonnes (+ 550 percent) respectively.