Bio-polymers growing despite sluggish market conditions

Global market size nearly US$ 14 billion with 6.6 million tons production

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polymers
Production capacity of bio-based polymers is expected to increase to 8.5 million tonnes by 2021

The worldwide production capacity for bio-based polymers grew by 4% to 6.6 million tons from 2015 to 2016. This represents a share of 2% of the global polymer market. The bio-based polymer turnover was over US$ 13.7 billion worldwide in 2016 compared to about US$ 11.5 billion in 2014. Production capacity of bio-based polymers is expected to increase from 6.6 million tons in 2016 to 8.5 million tons by 2021.

The development of the bio-based polymer market aligns to the overall growth rate of the polymer market as a whole. In contrast to a 10% annual growth between 2012 and 2014, the capacity growth data now shows a 4% annual growth rate from 2015 to 2021. This is almost the same as for the overall global polymer capacity. The main reasons for this slower increase in capacity are low oil prices, poor political support and a slower than expected growth of the capacity utilization rate.

Not all bio-based polymers are bio-degradable, but some important ones are, polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA), polylactic acid (PLA) and starch blends. Strong political support can only be found in Italy and France for biodegradable solutions in the packaging sector. In this sector, the global demand for biodegradable packaging still shows a double digit growth. Additional demand could come from the increasing micro-plastic problem (marine littering), but so far bio-degradable plastics have not benefited from this debate.

A market study, ‘Bio-based Building Blocks and Polymers–Global Capacities and Trends 2016–2021’ by nova-Institute gives a comprehensive insight into the bio-based world market with latest data on capacities and applications for all relevant bio-based building blocks and polymers. The report shows real data for the year 2016 and some projections for 2021.

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