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Biodegradable Polymers, BCC Research

  • October 2013
  • 181 pages
  • BCC Research
Report ID: 1715888

Summary

Table of Contents

STUDY GOALS AND OBJECTIVES

The objective of this study is to provide an analysis of the global biodegradable polymer market. According to most sources this market has not yet realized its potential due to several critical yet unresolved issues.

REASONS FOR DOING THE STUDY

Although biodegradable polymers have been commercial for several decades, this niche market is beset with a variety of roadblocks led by high prices and lack of an industrial infrastructure along with varying standards in several global areas.
New biodegradable polymers are being introduced, accompanied by a continuing withdrawal of other products. In addition, key companies are entering and leaving this market, which is often characteristic of new products/markets.
The industry has been characterized by new technologies, tightening environmental restraints and unstable oil prices among other issues. This combination of factors necessitates a realistic appraisal of the impact of these polymers over the next five years.

SCOPE OF REPORT

Although the term biodegradable polymers is well known, there are only a few truly universal standards in place; moreover, the fate of these materials in composting mediums is unclear in many instances. In addition, major drivers for global growth stem from mandated legislation. Though some mandates are in place, many have not been promulgated.
The controversy within the industry as to which materials should be considered biodegradable continues unabated. These resins currently include polyolefin-based compositions containing starch and polymers containing aromatic groups that microorganisms have difficulty utilizing in their metabolism.
Furthermore, there are additives said to convert petroleum-based resins to biodegradable versions. These resultant resins are said to be oxo-biodegradable.
Part of the current debate revolves around defining an acceptable period of time for biodegradation to be completed. Almost all carbon-based materials are biodegradable, if given an acceptable period of time.
This report includes polymers that producers market as fully biodegradable. Most define a fully biodegradable polymer as a polymer that is completely converted by microorganisms to carbon dioxide, water and humus.
In the case of anaerobic biodegradation, carbon dioxide, methane and humus are the degradation products. However, many within the industry insist on a time period for degradation such that the terms biodegradability and composting are not synonymous. The issues concerning biodegradable versus compostable resins is a very important issue that is discussed in detail.
Polymers derived from renewable resources (non-petroleum-based) are not covered unless they are considered biodegradable since many polymers derived from renewable resources are not biodegradable. These materials are often termed as bio-based. Some polymers are both bio-based and biodegradable.
This report covers the chemical types of biodegradable polymers along with their properties, production, producers and applications. The companies involved will be detailed in terms of their products including trade names and their impact on the market. Definitions and standards, market drivers, biodegradation testing, environmental issues, composting and relevant technologies will also be discussed.
An examination of global consumption is provided along with considerable information regarding North American, European and Asian products, technologies, markets and companies.

SOURCES

Following a detailed analysis of available information that included trade literature, articles and technical/marketing presentations and papers and company literature, interviews were conducted in order to realistically assess market size, growth rates, company involvement and other important factors impacting the market.

ANALYST’S CREDENTIALS

Research analyst Mel Schlechter has more than 40 years of experience in the chemical industry and specializes in plastics market research. He has been with BCC Research for more than a decade and holds a B.S. in chemistry, an M.S. in organic chemistry, and an M.B.A. in marketing.

REPORT HIGHLIGHTS

This report provides:
• An overview of the global market for biodegradable polymers, defined as polymers that are completely converted by microorganisms to carbon dioxide, water, and humus.
• Analyses of global market trends, with data estimates for 2013 and 2014, and projections of compound annual growth rates (CAGRs) through 2019.
• A discussion of how this niche market is beset with a variety of roadblocks, led by high prices, lack of industrial infrastructure in the United States, and a strong global legislative mandate to increase the usage of these materials.
• Characterization of the industry by new technologies, stringent environmental restraints, and very unstable oil prices, among other issues.

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