Applications for bioplastics

Today, bioplastics can be found in the following market segments:

  • Packaging
  • Food-services
  • Agriculture & horticulture
  • Consumer electronics
  • Automotive & transport
  • Consumer goods and household appliances
  • Building & construction
  • Coating & adhesives
  • Fibers

Packaging

There is still a high demand for packaging made from bioplastics to be used for wrapping organic food as well as for premium and branded products with particular requirements. In 2023, global production capacities of bioplastics amounted to about 2.18 million tonnes with 43 percent (973,400 million tonnes) of the volume destined for the packaging market – the biggest market segment within the bioplastics industry.

Rigid bioplastics applications are available for cosmetics packaging of creams and lipsticks as well as beverage bottles and many more. Materials, such as PLA, bio-PE or bio-PET are used in this section. Several well-known brands, use bio-PET for bottles of all sizes containing drinks and other fluids, while Coca-Cola signed a cooperation to test the use of bottles made from PEF. Coca-Cola also introduced the “100 percent Plant-based Bottle” into the market. Procter & Gamble resorts to bio-PE to package some of its cosmetic products. As a potentially mechanically recyclable material, PLA is also gaining pace in the rigid packaging market.

Biodegradability is a feature often sought when it comes to food packaging for perishables. Flexible packaging solutions, such as films and trays are particularly suitable for fresh produce, such as fruit and vegetables, as they enable longer shelf life. The requirements for food packaging are as divers and numerous as there are different types of food. Today, packaging materials and processes are extremely sophisticated and easily adaptable to meet specific application and preservation needs. When it comes to protecting food and prolonging shelf life, the performance of bioplastics packaging is comparable to that of existing conventional packaging and sometimes even better. By continuing to improve barrier properties like antimicrobial coating and other aspects, the bioplastics industry will be able to achieve better preservation of food products than current packaging very soon.

For almost every conventional plastic material and application there is a bioplastic alternative available on the market that has the same properties and potenti