Five key challenges for bioplastics in packaging

This latest white paper from Smithers Pira provides a comprehensive overview of the key challenges affecting the future growth of bioplastics for packaging

Bio-based polymers are beginning to challenge conventional plastics across a range of food and beverage packaging markets, as a result of new material and technological developments. At the same time, the technology is still at a relatively early stage.

Smithers Pira forecasts that global consumption of bioplastics in packaging will grow to over 2 million tonnes by 2020, at a market value of $5.9 billion. This will be the result of a rapid compound annual growth rate of 21% in 2015-20. Global bioplastics for packaging consumption is projected to reach 787,000 tonnes and a market value of $2.4 billion in 2015.

Despite the advancements that have been made in bioplastics for packaging in recent years, however, there are still drawbacks that could prevent the wider commercialisation of bio-based polymers in many food and beverage packaging applications. These include the high relative cost of bioplastics compared with petro-plastics, availability of raw materials, as well as issues of performance, quality/consistency and density.

The market for bioplastic packaging currently represents less than 1% of global plastic packaging sales. Bioplastic packaging is, however, forecast to grow at a significantly higher rate than petro-based polymers during the five-year period to 2020.

To do so, the bioplastics industry will need to see – and influence – changes in relation to a number of significant factors. These key factors in the future growth of bioplastics for packaging are covered in this whitepaper – namely:

  • Price versus petroleum polymers
  • Feedstock availability
  • Bioplastics performance
  • Product quality/consistency
  • Higher density of bioplastics