The perceived and ongoing expansion in the use of bioplastics can now be described as a trend, supported by statistics that point to significant future growth. According to the report “Global and Bioplastics Market 2010-2014” released in September by Technavio, the global bioplastics market is expected to grow 32% between 2010 and 2014. And a sizable share of that expanding line of business will likely remain in Brazil according to the Emissions and Technology Consultant for the Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA), Alfred Szwarc.
“Brazil is a major contributor to the growth of bioplastics, especially because it is the leading supplier in the world of sugarcane ethanol for the production of polyethylene, polypropylene, PVC and green PETs. In addition, important players in that market like petrochemical company Braskem are very active in Brazil, constantly developing new technologies for this emerging industry,” he said.
Over the last two years, several major global companies announced the use of green plastics, on the heels of perhaps the most visible example of all: the March 2010 launch by the Coca-Cola Company of plastic bottles known as PlantBottles, made with up to 30% plant-based materials sourced from sugarcane ethanol. TetraPak, Heinz, Nestlé, Danone, Procter & Gamble, Dow-Mitsui, AT&T and Michelin have also announced projects involving the use of sugarcane to develop resins and plastics.
The 33-page report from Technavio, a company which provides research on emerging technologies, says that although bioplastics are still more costly than similar products produced from fossil sources, the prospects for continued expansion of the renewable plastics market are very positive in the medium term. The optimism is based on factors such as the escalating cost of drilling for increasingly less available petroleum, as well as the growing demand for environmentally friendly products particularly in the automotive industry.
The study is based on extensive research with experts from the auto industry, suppliers and consumers from several sectors of the economy. Representatives from companies such as Natureworks, Novamont, ADM/Metabolix, Toyota and Basf were interviewed.