The bioplastics industry is a young, innovative sector with an enormous economic and ecological potential for a low-carbon, circular bioeconomy that uses resources more efficiently. The current market for bioplastics is characterised by a dynamic growth rate and a strong diversification. Even though bioplastics still represent around one percent of the about 320 million tonnes of plastics produced worldwide annually (Source: Plastics Europe), the market for bioplastics is growing very dynamically.
With a growing number of materials, applications and products, the number of manufacturers, converters and end users is increasing steadily. Significant financial investments have been made in production and marketing to guide and accompany this development. Bioplastics are a relevant and leading segment of the plastics industry.
The factors driving market development are both internal and external. Especially external factors make bioplastics the attractive choice. This is reflected in the high rate of consumer acceptance and increased consumer demand for more sustainable options and products. Moreover, the extensively publicised effects of climate change, price fluctuations of fossil materials, and the necessity to reduce the dependency on fossil resources also contribute to bioplastics being viewed favourably.
From an internal perspective, bioplastics are efficient and technologically mature materials. They are able to improve the balance between the environmental benefits and the environmental impact of plastics. Life cycle analyses demonstrate that some bioplastics can significantly reduce CO2 emissions compared to conventional plastics (depending on the material and application). What is more, the increasing utilisation of biomass in bioplastic applications has two clear advantages: renewability and availability.