The Berlin-based organisation said 60% of global bio-based production in 2014 was in the area of durable plastics. The highest growth has been in ‘drop-in’ biopolymers, which use renewable resources as sustainable feedstock for common polymers such as polyethylene (PE) and polyethylene terephthalate (PET). That 60% share of production is expected to rise to 80% by 2019, said EuBP.
“Bio-based PET is developing the fastest, with most of the volume going into bottles,” said deputy md Kristy-Barbara Lange. “Coca-Cola, for instance, presented the 100%-bio-based PlantBottle a few months ago.” Even though this version is not yet on the market, the concept has been proven.
“In the food packaging sector especially, [materials which are] bio-based and biodegradable – or compostable – will play an important role,” said Lange. “These materials are gaining immensely because they provide the opportunity to facilitate a separate bio-waste collection by being compostable together with the rotten food.”
In some cases, said EuBP, a move to bio-plastics is driven by the desire to reduce carbon footprint. It may also be in tune with a product’s wider environmental and social sustainability profile.
There can be cost benefits, too, as with the example of EuBP member DuPont switching to bio-based production of its Sorona polyamide.
Some more porous biodegradable materials may help to prolong the shelf-life of fresh produce and, where a better barrier is required, more sophisticated (but still compostable) multi-layer structures are available.
Earlier this year, UK businesses in this particular area set up the Bio-based and Biodegradable Industries Association (BBIA), chaired by Andy Sweetman of Innovia Films.