As for many other industries, also for bioplastics 2020 had been an exceptional year. Thus, its industry representatives were eager to come together to analyse the last twelve months and discuss about future market opportunities and challenges. Being the leading business forum for bioplastics, the annual European Bioplastics (EUBP) Conference, which took place from 30 November to 3 December 2020, provided the perfect platform. This year in a virtual format and with an interesting mix of topics that included the important policy processes as well as the latest industry innovations, the conference attracted a great number of participants from along the value chain of bio-based and biodegradable plastics. 

In his opening speech, François de Bie, Chairman of the Board of European Bioplastics (EUBP), set the scene by emphasizing the important role of bio-based and compostable plastics in the European Union’s efforts to achieve a green circular economy. “Many of the European Commission’s Green Deal initiatives touch upon plastics. Our industry provides important solutions that help to achieve a circular economy in Europe”, said de Bie. Experts from the European Parliament, European Commission, and the private sector discussed the policy framework for bio-based as well as biodegradable and compostable plastics. A clear legal framework was understood as paramount to ensure reliability in decision-making, not only for the bioplastics industry, but for the whole bioeconomy. “Bioplastics can play a crucial role in delivering innovation, and we have to create a stable market for them”, said MEP Maria Spyraki. The need for sufficient and efficient research financing was another important finding and an integral topic in many of the conference sessions. “We need more research funding, and we have to streamline this investment for innovation to achieve a circular economy”, said MEP Spyraki. 

More than in other years, the audience was excited to receive the latest global market data for the bioplastics industry. “Our industry has successfully weathered the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic. And the outlook for bioplastics is also promising as the global market is predicted to grow by 36 percent over the next 5 years”, commented François de Bie the new data. Further panel discussions showed that the industry has made strong progress in explaining the appropriate end-of-life options for the treatment of bioplastic products. Composting and mechanical or chemical recycling are understood as complementary solutions, depending on the respective application. The vivid discussions around life cycle assessment emphasized the complexity of the field as well as the challenge of communicating the many different value propositions of bioplastics. 

The 16th edition of the European Bioplastics Conference will take place from 30 November to 1 December 2021 in the Mercure Hotel MOA, Berlin.