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New report sees bioplastics moving out of the niche and entering the mass market

According to Lucintel, a leading global management consulting and market research firm, the global bioplastics industry will realize good growth over the next five years, reaching an estimated $7.02 billion by 2018. Growth-wise, the starch-based bioplastics market is expected to be the leader in all segments. Europe and North America are expected to remain hot destinations for research and development; they will also continue to be important as sales markets.

In its newly published detailed analysis, Global Bioplastic Industry 2013-2018: Trend, Forecast, and Opportunity Analysis, Lucintel reports that the major forces driving the bioplastics market are high consumer acceptance, danger posed by climate change, increasing price of fossil materials and dependence on fossil resources.

The wide variety of bioplastics applications under development is a positive factor for the growth of bioplastics which also helps to capture market share from competing materials; huge potential lies within the fields of consumer electronics and automotive. On account of new technological developments, writes Lucintel, bioplastics are moving out of the niche and entering the mass market.

The biggest challenge likely to be faced by the industry is price: bioplastic resins currently cost at least twice as much as petro plastic resins. Price considerations will be the primary determinant for the success of bioplastics market. Rising petroleum costs are thought to allow some bioplastic resins to be able to achieve price parity with conventional plastics.

The report also mentions the use of hazardous chemicals, such as pesticides, for agriculture production, including for the production of feedstocks for the bioplastics industry and the use of arable land and edible crops to produce bioplastics as other issues that remain to be dealt with.

Some of the key industry drivers include the fact that life cycle analysis has demonstrated that bioplastics can reduce CO2 emissions by 30%-70% as compared to conventional plastics. This shows a significant reduction in hazardous waste that is caused by oil-derived plastics. Global business is now turning to bioplastics, as governments demand cleaner alternatives to petroleum-based technologies and their "reckless" emission of the greenhouse gas, CO2. One metric ton of bioplastics generates between 0.8 and 3.2 fewer metric tons of carbon dioxide as compared to one metric ton of petroleum-based plastics.

Bioplastics, says the report, are moving toward reaching an established position in a number of application sectors, such as packaging, electronics sector and the automotive industry. Although full market penetration is just beginning, bioplastic materials and products are multiplying continuously, fueled by the use of these materials by multinational brand owners such as PepsiCo and Tetra Pak in the packaging market or Ford, Mercedes, Volkswagen, and Toyota in the automotive market, who have launched or integrated bioplastic products.

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