According to Smithers report - The Future of Bioplastics for Packaging to 2022 - bioplastics for packaging markets currently represent a very small share of the global plastic packaging market value, but it will grow very strongly – more than doubling in value across the forecast period.
The most successful organisations in this fast developing segment will be those that most effectively meet the remaining key challenges facing the commercial adoption of bioplastics in packaging. Firstly this involves identifying those opportunities where a premium can be expected for a naturally sourced product, overcoming biopolymers negative cost competitiveness versus petro-polymers caused by falls in world crude oil prices since mid-2014.
Furthermore in packaging applications where it is technically possible for bioplastics to replace oil-based polymers, suppliers will also have to manage the problems of higher production costs, capital availability, and limited availability of bio-based feedstock over the coming years.
"While the potential market for bioplastics is huge, consumption rates will depend on whether producers can grow their production capabilities fast enough and at acceptable cost/performance levels to meet demand. Decades ago, the oil refinery and petrochemical industry successfully implemented the use of added-value business models. These business models generated high levels of profit by integrating the supply chain from the oil well head all the way through chemicals and polymer production. This allowed producers to operate an integrated raw material and polymer complex with very few middle-men and therefore captured profit at each level of the supply chain. It is expected that the biopolymer sector will adapt an added-value business model in a similar way. Unlike oil refineries, a bio-refinery will be capable of processing many different types of biomass, including sugars, cellulose and various plant oils."