Biodegradable Plastics to Gain, Says Study

Cleveland, OH | Demand for biodegradable plastic in the US is expected to rise more than 15%/yr to 720 million lbs in 2012, valued at $845 million. This is the conclusion of a new study from The Freedonia Group.

Escalating crude oil prices, while presently low, made biodegradable plastics, which are sourced from renewable resources such as corn, more cost competitive with petroleum-based resin, the study notes. However, continued price declines are necessary for anticipated biodegradables growth, and rapidly rising prices for corn threaten the decline in biodegradable prices.

Demand for starch-based plastic will increase 16.8%/yr to 293 million lbs in 2012 due to improved resin blends and opportunities in areas that include compostable yard and kitchen bags. The study expects PLA demand to expand nearly 20%/yr, and good opportunities are expected for PLA in areas such as thermoformed food packaging and bedding and apparel fibers. Demand for polyester-based biodegradables will exhibit rapid annual growth of nearly 25% through 2012.

Packaging, which accounted for nearly three-quarters of all biodegradable plastic use in 2007, is expected to show the largest gains through 2012 due to good growth in areas such as foodservice products and film goods.

For more information visit www.freedoniagroup.com.

US Biodegradable Plastic Demand (million pounds) % Annual Growth
Item 2002 2007 2012 02-07 07-12
Total Demand 140 350 720 20.1 15.5
Biodegradable/Compostable: 101 285 630 23.1 17.2
Starch-Based 51 135 293 21.5 6.8
Polylactic Acid 10 91 225 55.5 19.8
Cellophane 35 30 32 -3.0 1.3
Polyester-Based & Other 5 29 80 42.0 22.5
Photodegradable 37 55 72 8.3 5.5
Other 2 10 18 38.0 12.5

©2008 by The Freedonia Group

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