Three factors driving the global biodegradable polymers market

A new report looks at the current state of the global biodegradable polymers market as well as its potential for future growth based on three drivers.

The global biodegradable polymers market is expected to grow at a CAGR of more than 21% from 2017 to 2021. That’s according to a new report from Technavio that covers the current biodegradable polymers market and its growth prospects based on Technavio’s analysis of the revenue generated from the sale of biodegradable polymers during the forecast period.

Notes the study, by application, the global biodegradable polymers market is segmented into food packaging, foam packaging, biodegradable bags, agriculture, and other segments. Biodegradable polymers are used in these areas to reduce the carbon footprint of products and provide enhanced sustainability through a circular process. The global market was valued at $2040.2 million in 2016 and is forecast to reach $5324.4 million by 2021.

Region-wise, Western Europe is the market leader in the global biodegradable polymers market with a share of more than 41% (2016 figures). The high levels of consumer awareness and maturity in the region make way for easy adoption of new technologies and products, which is the main reason behind the segment’s dominance. The key products available in the Western European market are compostable bio-based waste bags and loose-fill packaging materials. North America and the rest of the world follow Western Europe.

Technavio analysts highlight the following three factors that are contributing to the growth of biodegradable polymers:

  • Eco-friendly packaging leading to enhanced customer appeal
  • Government emphasis on efficient plastic waste management
  • The emergence of bio-based and renewable raw materials

Eco-friendly packaging leading to enhanced customer appeal

Says Swapnil Tejveer Sharma, one of the lead analysts at Technavio for plastics, polymers, and elastomers research, “Heathy lifestyle choices are quickly gaining popularity, which is creating a domino effect on the sales of natural, sustainable, and green products that can potentially reduce the burden on the ecosystem. This is directly translating to an increased demand for sustainable and eco-friendly packaging among consumers. This is driving the biodegradable polymers market while helping the vendors to achieve their sustainability efforts and enabling green branding of their products.”

Consumers have shown a clear preference toward sustainable options for plastic bags and food packaging, notes the study. The preference for sustainability in these product categories is pushing vendors to adopt greener technologies and strategies for branding and gaining a larger consumer base. Therefore, the increasing acceptance of sustainable packaging and green products among consumers is directly driving the biodegradable polymers market.

Government emphasis on efficient plastic waste management

The management of plastic waste is a top priority for most governments as mass consumption of products with short lifespans is increasing, leading to the accumulation of an enormous amount of non-degradable waste. This waste takes up valuable real estate space and often ends up in landfills or dumping grounds that have grave environmental impacts. To curb this, governments across the globe are aiding in and pushing for the adoption of biodegradable polymers through various initiatives and reforms, thus bringing in a steady demand for these products.

The emergence of bio-based and renewable raw materials

According to Swapnil, “The global biodegradable polymers market is driven by the emergence of renewable resources, biomass, and bio-based raw materials such as starch and vegetable crop derivatives. In 2015, bioplastics accounted for more than 80 percent of the global biodegradable polymers market. The use of bioplastics in numerous applications such as packaging and retail goods as has greatly aided market growth.”

Another important factor pushing for adoption of biodegradable polymers is the present consumption pattern of fossil fuel sources, which are likely to get depleted in the next few decades. Well-developed, self-sufficient, and state-of-the-art integrated bio-refineries are the only way forward for a sustainable future, claims Technavio. Thus, the focus of polymer manufacturers is shifting toward bio-based raw materials, which is very good for the global outlook of bio-based raw materials industries.

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