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Bioplastics production capacity to double to 1.7 million tonnes by 2015, study predicts

Global bioplastics production capacity will more than double from 700,000 tonnes in 2010, to 1.7 million in 2015, according to a new study.

The figures were released by bioplastics industry association, European Bioplastics, in cooperation with University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Hanover at the Interpak trade fair in Dusseldorf. Industry production capacity is predicted to pass the one million tonne mark this year.

This increase is expected to be accompanied by a change in composition of global production volume. In 2010, the bioplastics industry primarily produced biodegradable materials; totalling around 400,000 tonnes, compared to 300,000 tonnes of biobased commodity plastics. It is thought that this ratio will be reversed over the coming years. European Bioplastics said durable biobased plastics had strong appeal in the packaging sector, as well as in car manufacture, toys, carpets and electronic components.

“Our market study shows that biobased commodity plastics, with a total of one million tonnes, will make up the majority of production capacity in 2015. Biodegradable materials will, however, also grow substantially and reach about 700,000 tonnes by then,” said Professor Hans-Josef Endres of the University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Hanover.

A Recoup spokesman told MRW: “We believe that the predicted increase in bioplastic production is something that requires a lot of attention from all stakeholders involved in the plastic supply chain. Biodegradable plastics still need to find a way into an efficient collection, sorting and treatment system; inclusion in the current recycling schemes means it is likely to end up contaminating PET streams. It also does not easily reach composting sites, and when it does, does not usually biodegrade within the timeframe of a commercial plant. Bio-based plastics are likely to be fully compatible with plastic reprocessing, becoming a more attractive option; however, further work needs to be done to prove cost, environmental benefits and potential impact.”

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