Degradable plastics are widely used in packaging, consumer goods, textiles, agriculture, horticulture and other industries. However, due to the current COVID-19 epidemic, the application industry around the world has been affected. Labor shortage, logistics restrictions, insufficient supply of materials and other constraints have all slowed down the growth of the biodegradable plastics industry in the past year. Due to the outbreak of covid-19 COVID-19 and its global spread, industries with basic needs, such as the safe provision of food and materials to consumers, have been increasingly affected. For some packaging that is considered unnecessary, the impact of the global epidemic has led to a sharp decline in demand. On the other hand, the market demand for e-commerce shipping and other basic packaging has increased significantly. These changes have brought a series of new challenges to packaging companies.
BASF is one of the leading market participants. Its functional materials and solutions division produces biodegradable plastics for a variety of applications, such as automobile manufacturing, packaging, sports and leisure, medical technology, architecture, solar thermal energy and photovoltaic. The company produces a fully synthetic biodegradable polyester. In addition, the company currently also produces ecoflex (PBAT), a synthetic biodegradable polyester. The company mixed PLA with ecoflex to produce ecovio. It has taken joint operation as a key strategy to maintain its competitiveness in the global market.
Novamont Italy is also one of the major players in the biodegradable plastics market. The company provides starch, PCL and other mixtures including polyester and oil. It has a dominant patent portfolio and produces PBS, PBSA and PCL. In addition, novamont has offices and networks in Germany, France, Benelux, Scandinavia, Denmark, the United Kingdom, the United States, China, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.
Opportunities: developing new applications
With the increasing attention to sustainability and the government's strong supervision of green procurement policies, biodegradable plastic manufacturers have great opportunities in new end application industries such as electronics, medical care and automobiles. Medical enterprises are investing heavily in research and development of various applications of degradable plastics in the medical industry, such as suture materials, screws and implants. Biodegradable plastics such as PLA and bio based PBS can be used to manufacture medical devices and equipment. In the automotive industry, degradable plastics are used in tires together with starch based materials to reduce fuel consumption. They can also make electrical equipment more efficient and economical. Packaging applications are also expected to witness the significant growth of Degradable Plastics: biodegradable plastic films are widely used in agriculture; Food is also an important application field with high requirements for biodegradable plastics, including trays, tableware and cups.
Challenges: performance issues
Low barrier to air, water and oxygen and poor heat resistance are the main performance problems of biologically degradable plastics. This limits its application expansion in various industries, including electronics and automobile industries. In addition, poor mechanical properties, such as low impact and tensile strength and process capability, also limit the penetration of biodegradable plastics in various applications. These performance limitations of biodegradable plastics have become a major challenge to the growth of this market.