Compostable Materials - A Sustainable Replacement Of Petroleum Based Plastic?
3.4 Market Predictions
- “The Champagne Bottle Is Already Open”-
A decade ago compostable products were not seen to have any significant role to play in the packaging industry, today it is an integral part. Now, fresh Market Analysis are predicting a significant growth of compostable packaging within the next years.(63)(64)(65) According to Market Researcher Technavio compostable packaging will ”emerge as a key trend in the global e-commerce packaging market until 2020” and “The growing demand for biodegradable plastic packaging materials over conventional non biodegradable plastic packaging materials like PET proves to be one of the most important factors driving the growth of the market worldwide.”(66)(67)
Europe and North America are expected to dominate the overall market to, “contribute almost one third of the future growth”. China and India are also big contributors to further growth of the market.(68) The demand is supposed to be increased customer preferences to “environmental friendly products” and environmental concerns.(69) Other growth factors are linked to an increased focus on sustainable packaging by brand owners and retail companies, the implementation of plastic bag bans, etc…
The sector that stands out the most is the food and beverage industry. The demand for compostable packaging is expected to grow significantly when other countries are expected to follow Frances progressive new law which outlaws single-use plates, cutlery and cups made out of conventional plastic in favour of compostable alternatives. Moreover the “Increasing application in household and agriculture is expected to create significant opportunity to increase the revenue of the global compostable packaging materials market.”(70), this resulting in huge investments from within the industry. Euronews reports “The Industry of bioplastics have already uncorked the champagne”(71)
According to Transparency Market Research “There are a limited number of companies operating in the global compostable packaging market. Some of the major players identified across the globe in the compostable packaging materials market are Novamont SpA, tipa-corp ltd., BASF SE, Innovia Films Limited, Biome Bioplastics Limited, and NatureWorks LLC.”(72)
The European Bioplastic, association representing the interests of the bioplastic industry states that “… as demand is rising and with more sophisticated materials, applications, and products emerging, the market is already growing by about 20 to 100 per cent per year. Roughly 85 percent of plastics could technically be substituted with biobased plastics (according to ProBIP, 2009)”.(73)
However, the bioplastic industry (which compostable material manufacturing is yet a small part of) does only account for 1% of the 311 million tonnes plastic produced annually. Compostable materials are generally more expensive then traditional material and therefore “is not getting wider acceptance, especially from the small and medium enterprises”, paying as little as possible is generally still the the most desired scenario.(74) Susan Selke, director of Michigan State University’s School of Packaging explains, “As a general rule, if polyolefins (plastic) will do the job, then they will be the least expensive”.(75) Furthermore, it is the lack of support towards compostable materials promotion from governments in developing countries which expected to curb the compostable material markets growth.
With the compostable packaging market expected to grow exponentially in the future, so to is the demand for petroleum based plastic. This leads to the conclusion that we will consume more; both compostable materials and conventional plastic.