The global market for Biodegradable Polymers is projected to reach 6.2 billion pounds by 2024, driven by the growing need to reduce environmental damage due to the use of petroleum-based plastics. The expanding range of applications and adoption of strict regulations to curb pollution and plastic waste are also fueling growth in the market.
Biodegradable polymers are polymers that can be broken down into simple, natural and reusable products, subsequent to their intended purpose. Biodegradable polymers are broken down by naturally occurring microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi and algae into smaller units (monomers) into water, methane, biomass, inorganic compounds, carbon dioxide, and humus. Biodegradable polymers are easy to dispose or recycle without the threat of hazardous emissions, thus emerging as environmentally beneficial and economically viable alternatives to conventional petroleum-based polymers.
Fast depletion of traditional sources of fossil fuel leading to the shift towards renewable sources, rising consumer preference for eco-friendly products, increased need to reduce greenhouse gas emission, growing concerns over depleting landfills' capacity, and backlash arising out of rising environmental pollution are driving focus onto biodegradable polymers. The market also benefits from the rising consumer demand for eco-friendly products specifically packaging solutions, and increasing focus of governments on efficient plastic waste management. With accumulation of large volumes of non-biodegradable waste becoming a major concern amidst depleting landfill space, governments are adopting measures to help reduce plastic waste in a sustainable manner. The encouragement given to the use of biodegradable polymers is one major step in this direction, which is expected to fuel demand for the material in the coming years. The complete ban on plastic bags in some countries or levy of additional charge for using plastic bags in others has led manufacturers and retailers to move towards biodegradable polymers-based plastic bags.
The expanding range of applications presents a major opportunity for the biodegradable polymers market. The polymers find use in a variety of applications including food packaging, compost bags, paper coatings, cutlery, foam packaging, agriculture mulch films, and drug delivery and release systems, among others. Growth in the market will be further driven by technology innovations, emerging applications, stern regulations to inhibit packaging waste and landfill, and improvement in composting infrastructure. Development of novel resins with enhanced performance capabilities also presents growth opportunities for the biodegradable polymers market. Also over the years, biodegradable polymers have become competitive in terms of cost with petroleum-based polymers, due mainly to the policy support offered by various governments.
Europe represents the largest regional market, worldwide. The region's dominance is due to higher awareness levels among consumers about renewable and biodegradable polymers, which facilitates easy adoption of new and advanced technologies and products. Also, rapidly depleting landfill capacity; need to reduce gas and fossil fuel dependence, growing need to inhibit greenhouse gas emissions; and strong regulations in terms of certification and commercialization of new polymers are also contributing to Europe's leadership in the biodegradable polymers market. Asia-Pacific is forecast to register the fastest CAGR of 20.3% over the analysis period, driven by the rising demand for eco-friendly packaging solutions, and adoption of strict regulations to curb pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, specifically in high-growth economies of India and China.
Major players in the market include BASF SE, BIOTEC GmbH & Co. KG, CJ CheilJedang, DowDuPont Inc., FKuR Kunststoff GmbH, Futamura Chemical Co. Ltd., Japan Corn Starch Co. Ltd., Kingfa Sci. & Tech. Co. Ltd., Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation, NatureWorks LLC, Novamont SpA, Plantic Technologies Limited, Rodenburg Biopolymers, and Total Corbion PLA, among others.