Polymers and plastics are generally used in coating and packaging applications. Around 80% polymeric materials are produced from the petroleum industry, while processing fossil fuels. The burgeoning use of plastics is burdening the environment with its increasing carbon footprint due to greenhouse gas emissions, along with other factors such as soil and ground water pollution. Thus arising a need for environment-friendly alternatives. The growing focus towards sustainable development is expected to create an opportunity for bio-based plastics and polymers in the coming years.
Biopolymers are polymers that are degradable when subjected to moisture and heat, under the action of micro-organisms. They are made from waste starch, biomass and other renewable feed stock. There are some commercially available polymers (such as polylactic acid, bio-nano composites and polyhydroxyalkanoate, etc.) which are used in the electronics and automotive industries. Governments are encouraging the use of biodegradable polymers over conventional polymers so as to reduce carbon footprint. Some major automotive companies are now opting for biopolymers in their vehicles; for instance, the Ford Motor Company is using biopolymers for interior applications.
Global Biopolymers Market: Market Dynamics – Fluctuation in crude oil prices, limited availability of petroleum resources and awareness towards ecological problems are key factors propelling the growth of the global biopolymers market during the forecast period. Changing political conditions and environmental regulations on carbon emissions and plastic usage are also forecasted to boost the global biopolymers market over the forecast period. Despite being a niche market, the biopolymers market is expected to witness significant growth over the forecast period.
In addition to this, raw materials required in the manufacturing of biopolymers are obtained from agricultural wastes. Thus biopolymer production can prove to be a sustainable alternative in waste management. Being bio-degradable, biopolymers can also help in reducing carbon dioxide emissions. Owing to these advantages, there is a mushrooming interest in biopolymer manufacturing which will consequently drive the growth of the global biopolymers market over the forecast period.
However, costing is a significant issue for biopolymers. According to the European Bioplastics Association, the cost of biopolymers (owing to the manufacturing cost) is still pretty steep. This could manifest as a major challenge for the global biopolymers market during the forecast period.
Joint ventures with companies for manufacturing and investments in the research and development of biopolymers are the recent trends observed across the globe. Major biopolymer manufacturing companies are located in Western Europe, U.S., Japan and China, among others.
Global Biopolymers Market: Regional Outlook – Europe is a major consumer of biopolymers in the global biopolymers market. Attributing to the laws and regulations in this region, Europe is estimated to remain dominant throughout the forecast period. After Europe, North America is forecasted to account for a major share by 2016 end. This region is estimated to witness significant growth during the forecast period.
Asia Pacific is projected to witness robust growth in the global biopolymers market over the forecast period. This is mainly attributed to rapid industrialization and the need to curb pollution from manmade plastics and synthetic polymers in these regions. Latin America and Middle East & Africa are expected to invest in the research and development of biopolymers during the forecast period.
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Global Biopolymers Market: Market Participants – Examples of some of the major participants operating in the global biopolymers market are mentioned below: BASF SE,Braskem S.A.,Meredian Holdings Group Inc.,NatureWorks LLC,Corbion NV,Metabolix, Inc.,Danimer Scientific,Biopolymer International,Solanyl Biopolymers,HARBEC, Inc.,Metabolix Inc.