Bio-based polymers show CAGR of almost 20%

  • Drop-in PET, PLA and PHA with highest growth rates
  • Bio-based polymers show CAGR of almost 20%
  • Most investment will take place in Asia

Fast growth of bio-based polymers: production capacity will triple from 5.1 million tonnes in 2013 to 17 million tonnes in 2020, representing a 2% share of polymer production in 2013 and 4% in 2020. The bio-based polymer turnover was about €10 billion worldwide in 2013. Europe looses considerable shares in total production to Asia.

Drop-in PET, PLA and PHA show highest growth rates

Bio-based drop-in PET and the new polymers PLA and PHA show the fastest rates of market growth. The lion’s share of capital investment is expected to take place in Asia.

bio-based materials table

Study includes bio-based building blocks as precursor of bio-based polymers

Two years after the first market study was released, Germany’s nova-Institute is publishing a complete update of the most comprehensive market study of bio-based polymers ever made. This update will expand the market study’s range, including bio-based building blocks as precursor of bio-based polymers. The nova-Institute carried out this study in collaboration with international experts from the field of bio-based building blocks and polymers. The study investigates every kind of bio-based polymer and, for the first time, several major building blocks produced around the world, while also examining in detail 112 companies.

In 2014 the association “European Bioplastics” used nova-Institute’s market study as its main data source of their recently published market data. For the European Bioplastics’s selection of bio-based polymers, which differs from nova-Institute’s selection, bio-based polymers production capacities are projected to grow by more than 400% by 2018.

bio-based materials market share

Bio-based polymers show CAGR of almost 20%

The production capacity for bio-based polymers boasts very impressive development and annual growth rates, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of almost 20% in comparison to petrochemical polymers, which have a CAGR between 3-4%. The 5.1 million tonnes bio-based polymer production capacity represent a 2% share of overall structural polymer production at 256 million tonnes in 2013 and a bio-based polymer turnover of about €10 billion (5 Mio. t (production capacity) x 2.50 €/kg (estimated average bio-based polymer price) x 0,8 (capacity utilization rate)).

Production capacity to reach 17 million tonnes by 2020

This bio-based share of overall polymer production has been growing over the years: it was 1.5% in 2011 (3.5 million tonnes bio-based for a global production of 235 million tonnes). Current producers of bio-based polymers estimate that production capacity will reach 17 million tonnes by 2020. With an expected total polymer production of about 400 million tonnes in 2020, the bio-based share should increase from 2% in 2013 to more than 4% in 2020, meaning that bio-based production capacity will grow faster than overall production.

bio-based materials forecast

Drop-in PET, PLA and PHA show highest growth rates

The most dynamic development is foreseen for drop-in bio-based polymers, but this is closely followed by new bio-based polymers. Drop-in bio-based polymers are chemically identical to their petrochemical counterparts but at least partially derived from biomass. This group is spearheaded by partly bio-based polyethylene terephthalate (PET) whose production capacity was around 600,000 tonnes in 2013 and is projected to reach about 7 million tonnes by 2020, using bio-ethanol from sugar cane. Bio-based PET production is expanding at high rates worldwide, largely due to the Plant PET Technology Collaborative (PTC) initiative launched by The Coca-Cola Company. The second most dynamic development is foreseen for polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA), which, contrary to bio-based PET, are new polymers, but still have similar growth rates to those of bio-based PET. Polylactic acid (PLA) and bio-based polyurethanes (PUR) are showing impressive growth as well: their production capacities are expected to almost quadruple between 2013 and 2020.

Most investment will take place in Asia

Most investment in new bio-based polymer capacities will take place in Asia because of better access to feedstock and favorable political framework. Europe’s share is projected to decrease from 17% to 8%, and North America’s share is set to fall from 18% to 4%, whereas Asia’s is predicted to increase from 51% to 76%. South America is likely to remain constant with a share at around 12%. In other words, world market shares are expected to shift dramatically. Asia is predicted to experience most of the developments in the field of bio-based building block and polymer production, while Europe and North America are slated to lose more than a half and just over three quarters of their shares, respectively.

The forecast of a total production capacity of 17 million tonnes of bio-based polymers suggests that the market is definitely well established and growing. It is also shown that the development of bio-based polymers is still very dynamic.

The 500 page-market study and trend reports on “Bio-based Building Blocks and Polymers in the World – Capacities, Production and Applications: Status Quo and Trends Towards 2020” was published today. Authors are experts from the German nova-Institute in cooperation with ten international experts.


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