Market drivers and development

Today, there is a bioplastic alternative for almost every conventional plastic material and corresponding application. Bioplastics have the same properties as conventional plastics and offer additional advantages, such as a reduced carbon footprint or additional waste management options, such as composting. The current market for bioplastics is characterised by a dynamic growth rate and a strong diversification. There is a multitude of applications for bioplastics ranging from beverage bottles in the packaging segment to keyboards in the consumer electronics segment and interior parts in the automotive sector.

With a growing number of materials, applications, and products, the number of manufacturers, converters, and end-users also increases steadily. Significant financial investments have been made into production and marketing to guide and accompany this development.
The latest market data does not only demonstrate the contributions of the industry on moving towards a sustainable future with a reduced environmental impact. The forecast also predicts the budding bioplastics industry to unfold an immense economic potential over the coming decades.

The factors driving market development are both internal and external. External factors make bioplastics the attractive choice. This is reflected in the high rate of consumer acceptance. Moreover, the extensively publicised effects of climate change, price increases of fossil materials, and the increasing dependence 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 bioplastics can significantly reduce CO2 emissions compared to conventional plastics (depending on the material and application). Furthermore, the increasing utilisation of biomass in bioplastic applications has two clear advantages: renewability and availability.

European Bioplastics focuses and promotes its activities on European and Member States’ level. Numerous countries outside the European Union are actively pursuing the development of bioplastics. Europe in particular offers excellent general conditions to compete globally for future markets and technologies. These include:

  • A highly developed economy and educated society
  • Leading global companies in the chemical and plastics industries
  • Industrial users with the aim of promoting sustainable development
  • Consumers with strong purchasing power and a high degree of environmental awareness

Political support

It is essential for the further development of the market that products are marketed profitably even at this early stage. A secure investment framework and support from policy makers will foster the framework needed to nurture this pillar of a sustainable future. In this regard, the European Commission adopted a policy framework for biobased, biodegradable and compostable plastic.

Several policy processes, many of them related to the European Green Deal have the potential to boost the role of bioplastics in developing a truly circular bioeconomy, enabling innovation, and attracting new investments. In recent years, the European Union has made increasing efforts to introduce or adapt policies, regulatory frameworks, and standards to strengthen and implement the bioeconomy and circular economy in Europe, all of which affect the bioplastics sector in one way or other.

Research on the biobased economy is already supported by several national governments as well as by various EU programmes, in the past by “Horizon 2020” and now