By Swamini Kulkarni of Allied Market Research
Plastic is in many ways one of the most wonderous creations of the human species. A material that is durable even with heavy loads, is flexible when needed, and can be molded into any desired shape. No wonder, then, the material gained popularity in every industry across the globe. However, these benefits have come at a heavy cost.
Today, plastic pollution is one of the world’s most chronic problems. What’s more, plastic has made its way into glaciers and the deepest waters of the oceans. The use of plastic escalated so quickly that existing recycling facilities cannot possible cope with the current amount of worldwide waste.
Increased demand for biodegradable plastic and challenges to overcome
Europe uses around 90 billion single-use plastic bags each year and of which, around 8 billion end up in landfills, polluting acres of land. In 2015, the European Commission announced the EU plastic bags direct to minimize the use of a single-use plastic bag. The directive several strategies such as a ban on plastic bags and charging users recycling fees among others. However, the dependency on plastic is hard to cure. Thus, the need for biodegradable plastic surged in Europe. As per Allied Market Research, the Europe biodegradable plastics market is projected to garner $1.9 billion by 2027, growing at a CAGR of 10.9% from 2020 to 2027. The eco-friendly nature, rise in consumer adoption, and increased demand from the packaging industry coupled with favorable government policies toward bioplastic drive the growth of the market.
However, biodegradable plastic is not a one-size-fits-all solution. It takes several weeks to around six months to break down. Moreover, it does not compost or absorbs back into the soil. It needs the help of biological organisms to degrade.
The conventional plastic production industry is well set and the biodegradable sector is comparatively new. This means the production chain is just starting out and therefore, a bit expensive and demands high investment for large-scale production. However, the increase in the adoption of biodegradable in Europe would pave the market toward a bright future.
Developments in the European biodegradable plastic industry
From the healthcare to the packaging industry, the demand for biodegradable plastic has increased over the last couple of years. Recently, Alpha, an Austrian packaging group launched its new brand, Blue Circle Packaging. The new brand would offer a variety of biodegradable products including home-compostable coffee capsules. The coffee capsule is manufactured by using the injection molding technique and has aroma-preserving properties. Nicolas Lehner, the Chief Commercial Officer of Alpla stated that their label offers products that use biodegradable materials and are a part of their commitment toward a greener future.
On the other hand, amg International GmbH, a prime manufacturer of stent implantation recently obtained a European mark of approval for its biodegradable stent. UNITY-B, the company’s pancreaticobiliary biodegradable implant, offers an opportunity to reduce procedural costs as well as complication rates.
The packaging industry is the biggest end user of single-use plastic due to its durability and lightweight. However, advancements in biodegradable plastic have an open new opportunities in the packaging and agricultural industries.
The presence of microplastic in the soil is a prime concern for farmers in European countries, which can be solved with the widespread use of biodegradable plastic. Although unmatched durability was the main selling factor of plastic, researchers have developed bridgeable plastic, which can be reformulated into oxo-degradability and help take over around half of the conventional plastic production.
Several European countries imposed a ban on the use of single-use plastic, which led to innovations in biodegradable plastic and bio-plastic resin industries. Several brands including Coca Cola have replaced conventional plastic with biodegradable plastic in product packaging to achieve sustainability goals and meet the consumer demand for eco-friendly products.
Although there is a long battle ahead of the biodegradable plastics industry, there is hope for the future. Scientists have been working on developing biodegradable plastic that does not demand freshwater or land after its use. Moreover, if the supply chain in the market is properly streamlined, it is possible to recycle bioplastic products and reduce the harmful effects of plastic on the environment. An increase in innovations would unlock new opportunities in the market and offer a ray of hope to reduce plastic pollution and the presence of microparticles across the globe.
About the Author
Swamini Kulkarni holds a bachelor’s degree in Instrumentation and control engineering from Pune University and works as a content writer at Allied Market Research. She is deeply fascinated by the impact of technology on human life and loves to talk about science and mythology. When she is not glued to the computer, she loves to read, travel and daydream about her areas of interest.