Plastics Proliferation Transitioning to Bioplastics Boost
by Helena Tavares Kennedy (Biofuels Digest) IHS Markit published a plastics report saying that the market value for biodegradable polymers exceeds $1 billion and will rise sharply by 2023 thanks to increased plastic regulations and bans in Western Europe. But it’s not just Europe that we are seeing bans on plastic. Multinational companies like Kraft, Starbucks, McDonalds, Marriott, Disney and more are all jumping on the anti-plastic bandwagon as consumers demand more responsible action from their favorite brands and products. And it’s not just IHS Markit that is optimistic about the future of bioplastics.
So what will replace the plastic bags, straws and ketchup packets? That’s where it gets interesting. While some companies are looking to use what we already have – recycled plastic – as a solution, others are getting even more innovative with all sorts of new bioplastics as alternatives. The funny thing is they aren’t even alternatives really, since they could completely replace plastics…and some companies are on a roll to get there.
As amazing as bioplastics sound, they have some challenges still to overcome. For one, many bioplastics are often touted as compostable but many cities and regions don’t have suitable industrial composting facilities or composting programs.
Demand, while increasing, is still thought of as a challenge as well, according to Marifaith Hackett, director, specialty chemicals research at IHS Markit and the report’s lead author. “For various reasons, which may include consumer confusion regarding bio-based plastics versus biodegradable polymers, there is not as much demand for these more sustainable plastics as you might expect, despite heightened public awareness of the plastics waste issue,” Hackett said. “In addition, suitable disposal options for products made from biodegradable polymers are often lacking. The cost of establishing the infrastructure necessary to support their collection and composting remains a barrier to demand growth.” READ MORE