The global biodegradable plastics market size is projected to grow USD 27.2 billion by 2027 from USD 7.1 billion in 2020, at a CAGR of 25.1% between 2021 and 2027. A major factor driving the market study is the favorable government policies, which promote bio-plastics. Additionally, attractive usage trends in flexible packaging are likely to favor market growth. On the flip side, a higher price of biodegradable polymers than petroleum-based polymers is expected to hamper the market growth.
Improving consumer awareness for sustainable plastic solutions and increasing efforts not to use non-biodegradable plastics contribute to the market growth of biodegradable plastics. Usually used petroleum-based plastics take decades to degrade or break down and lay in the landfills for a long period. Biodegradable plastics break down faster than petroleum-based plastics when discarded and absorbed back into the natural system. In addition, the decomposition rate of biodegradable plastics by the activities of microorganisms is much faster than that of traditional plastics.
Biodegradable plastic producers have huge prospects in new end-use industries such as medical, automotive, and electronics, thanks to favorable government rules for green procurement policies and a growing focus on sustainability. Biodegradable polymers are being used in various medical applications, including screws, implants, and stitching materials, with manufacturers investing considerably in R&D. Medical gadgets and equipment, are made from biodegradable polymers like bio-PBS and PLA. In the automobile sector, biodegradable polymers are utilized in tires using starch-based resources to minimize fuel use. They are also used for making electrical equipment cost-effective and more efficient. The packaging application is likely to witness significant growth. Recyclable mulch films have an extensive application in the agriculture industry. Catering to food products is a highly demanded and important application of biodegradable plastics, including cutleries, cups, and trays.
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Global Biodegradable Polymers Market Dynamics
Drivers: Government Guidelines Promoting Bio-plastics
The major driver for the biodegradable polymers market is the environmental dilemma caused by reaching high levels of greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere. Also, the dumping of non-degradable waste in landfills and oceans is harming the environment. Moreover, the fluctuation in oil prices and the change of laws in petroleum-based plastics have helped accelerate the demand for biodegradable polymers.
To curb land and air pollution caused due to non-biodegradable plastics, governments across the world have come up with numerous regulations and policies regarding the use of conventional synthetic polymers. Further, they have been promoting the use of eco-friendly and biodegradable materials for the production of polymers. The manufacturing costs for biopolymers are decreasing due to changes in technology and the increasing availability of raw materials. This also helps numerous countries in reducing the dependency on oil from foreign sources. Biopolymers are non-toxic and are easier to recycle. Hence, they take less time to break down, which helps in the protection of the environment.
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Restraints: Higher Price Compared to Petroleum-Based Polymers
The main reason for the wide market adoption of any product is the price competitiveness offered for its substitutes. The widespread adoption of the product depends on the low cost of the product. The demand for cheaper substitutes is always prevalent, and in many cases, the cost outweighs the benefits offered by the product. At the same time, novel products are usually more expensive than their current substitutes. With time, the raw material costs and manufacturing costs start declining, increasing the product’s competitiveness in the market. The economies of scale and public awareness about the product play a crucial role in the product’s market price.
The production of raw materials for bio-based biodegradable polymers requires land for cultivation and recycling. In addition, the production of raw materials is expected to be a challenging factor for the biodegradable polymers market. The use of chemicals and the energy required to grow these crops increases the investments and leaves environmental footprints by using fertilizers, pesticides, and the processing of bio-feedstock.
Scope of the Report
The study categorizes the bio-degradable polymers market based on grade type and application at the regional and global levels.
By Grade Type Outlook (Sales, USD Million, 2017-2027)
- Starch-based Plastics
- Polylactic Acid
- Polyhydroxy Alkanoates
- Cellulose Derivatives
By End-Use Outlook (Sales, USD Million, 2017-2027)
- Consumer Goods
- Other End-user Industries
By Region Outlook (Sales, USD Million, 2017-2027)
- North America (US, Canada, Mexico)
- South America (Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Peru, Rest of Latin America)
- Europe (Germany, Italy, France, UK, Spain, Poland, Russia, Slovenia, Slovakia, Hungary, Czech Republic, Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Rest of Europe)
- Asia Pacific (China, Japan, India, South Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia, the Philippines, Singapore, Australia & New Zealand, Rest of Asia Pacific)
- The Middle East & Africa (Saudi Arabia, UAE, South Africa, Northern Africa, Rest of MEA)
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The starch-based plastics segment is projected to account for the largest market share by grade type
Based on grade type, the global biodegradable polymers market is divided into starch-based plastics, polylactic acid, polyhydroxy alkanoates, polyesters, and cellulose derivatives. In 2020, the starch-based plastics segment accounted for the largest market share of 40.7% in the global biodegradable polymers market. Starch is the main carbohydrate storage product of higher plants. Starch is a common and easily obtainable natural polymer, making it an attractive option as a potential bio-based alternative to fossil-based polymers. Because of its low cost and availability, starch has been incorporated into a variety of products. Starch polymers can be extracted from corn, potatoes, rice, barley, sorghum, and wheat. The principal source of starch for industrial and food purposes is corn. Corn is one of the major raw materials involved in the production of starch-based bio-degradable polymers. This is now being increasingly used as a substitute for conventional petroleum-based plastics.
Increasing environmental regulations and other government initiatives contribute to the increasing usage of starch-based bio-degradable polymers in Asia-Pacific. In addition, North America is also expected to register considerable growth in the use of starch-based bio-degradable polymers, owing to its growing demand in mostly flexible and rigid packaging, consumer goods, coatings and adhesives, agriculture and horticulture, etc.
Asia Pacific accounts for the highest CAGR during the forecast period
Based on the regions, the global biodegradable polymers market has been segmented across North America, Asia-Pacific, Europe, South America, and the Middle East & Africa. Globally, Asia Pacific is estimated to hold the highest CAGR of 29.5% in the global biodegradable polymers market during the forecast period. The region includes the countries such as China, India, Japan, South Korea, Australia, Southeast Asia, and the Rest of Asia-Pacific. The region’s growth is primarily due to strong economic growth in the domestic emerging countries such as China, Indonesia, Malaysia, and India.
Due to improving living standards, per capita income, and population, China has become one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, with practically all end-user sectors growing as well. However, owing to the international trade turbulences and unfavorable geopolitical affairs, the growth rate was expected to slow down in the initial years of the forecast period. But the growth is expected to take up the pace in the latter part of the forecast period, considering the favorable conditions and relations in the future.
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Key Market Players
The worldwide market for biodegradable polymers is consolidated, with the market leader in each product area controlling a significant portion of the market. NatureWorks LLC is the market leader in polylactic acid products and Novamont S.p.A is the leading manufacturer of starch-based biodegradable polymers. Other key players in the market include BASF SE, BIOTEC, Cardia Bioplastics, DuPont, Eastman Chemical Company, FKuR Kunststoff GmbH, Merck KGaA, Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings Corporation, Natureworks LLC, Novamont SpA, Rodenburg Biopolymers, Ltd, Total Corbion, and UNITIKA LTD.
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