Demand for degradable plastics in the US is projected to rise nearly eleven percent annually to 335 million pounds in 2014, valued at $390 million. Although representing less than one-half of one percent of all thermoplastic resin demand in 2009, degradable plastics will exhibit substantial growth opportunities. Degradable plastic advances will be fostered by their increased cost competitiveness with petroleum-based materials as well as their sustainability and more benign environmental profile. Degradable plastics demand is being broadened by enhanced performance properties brought about by more sophisticated polymerization and blending techniques. Testing and certification standards have also been established for many types of biodegradable plastics, with growing pressures to limit packaging waste and expand the composting infrastructure.
Polylactic acid (PLA) will grow at the fastest pace through 2014, driven by a more competitive price structure and greater availability. Myriad opportunities are expected, particularly in fiber applications such as nonwovens. Starch based plastics will have a good outlook as a result of improved resin blends and applications in such areas as compost able yard and kitchen bags, as well as food service items such as plates, bowls and cutlery. Demand for polyhydroxyalkanoates(
Packaging, which accounted for nearly three-quarters of all degradable plastic in2009, will exhibit good growth through2014 in film and molded containers. However, most rapid growth is expected for non-packaging products, particularly textile fibers in areas such as nonwovens, bedding and apparel. Other degradable non packaging products include compost bags, foodservice disposables and agricultural mulch.
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