As their name suggests, bioplastics are a type of plastic made from organic material, such as corn, oils, vegetable fats, starches and microbiota. When it’s made correctly, most consumers won’t even be able to tell the difference between it and traditional plastic. They look identical to traditional plastic, but they also degrade much quicker in the environment, making them a more “earth-friendly” alternative. As a result of these numerous benefits, the bioplastics market has seen steady growth in recent years not only here in the U.S., but throughout other parts of the world as well. Here we’ll take a closer look at this growing new market and reveal some of the predictions for the future of bioplastics.
One of the reasons why the bioplastics market is seeing a surge in popularity is directly related to legislative moves to ban or limit the use of plastic bags and containers. Here’s a statistic that’s undeniably shocking – roughly 750 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags are used in the world each year! To make matters worse, about a third of them are from the U.S. alone. In an effort to limit the environment impact of this, several state governments and city officials have placed bans or restrictions on the use of plastic bags. California, Washington, Indiana and Hawaii are just a couple areas where plastic bags are banned.
Once these bans took place, companies began searching for a new alternative in the form of bioplastics. Although they look similar and function in the same way as traditional plastic, they weren’t categorized as plastic, which allowed companies to use them. This newfound demand for bioplastics fueled the industry’s growth to levels previously unseen. If regulations and bans continue to be placed on plastic bags, it’s likely the bioplastics market will only grow more in the years to come.
Bioplastics has also proven to be an effective material for food packaging. Depending on the type of bioplastics, it’s generally heat-resistant, effective at blocking at air and germs, resistant to punctures, and is even highly breathable, all of which are ideal for food packaging. Currently, there are just over a dozen different companies that specialize in the production of bioplastics for food packaging, some of which are NatureWorks, Cereplast and Teknor Apex.
There’s no telling what the future holds for the bioplastics market, but most analysts believe it’s only going to continue to rise as companies seek “greener” alternatives to plastic.