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.

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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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