Biodegradable plastics possess a higher potential for growth in comparison with the existing eco-friendly technologies in the chemical and renewable energy sectors, as these biodegradable plastics come under the “green” category. This is evident as the opportunities are growing for biodegradable plastics in areas that include healthcare, packaging/plastic bags, electronics, automotive, agriculture and consumer goods. Factors such as green procurement policies, governmental measures and climate change contribute to the growth of this sector.
An analysis from Frost & Sullivan titled “Biodegradable Plastics-A Strategic Assessment of Technology Status and Application Prospects” indicates that biodegradable products are mostly used in two sectors that include packaging and consumer products. Rigid packaging and film packaging are two sectors that have attracted this material most, reveals the analysis.
Green products are now gaining support from the public because of its attractive and fashionable features. A suitable example for this is the positive recognition gained by reusable bags and hybrid cars. Appliances, cars and food are sectors that use a number of eco-friendly products.
The challenges facing the biodegradable plastic market include cost competitiveness. This challenge can be overcome with the use of biomass-based feedstock, which is cheaper, and adoption of an integrated process. Low barrier properties toward water, air and oxygen, poor processability characteristics, low shelf life and low resistance of heat are the other issues associated with biodegradable plastics.
The properties of biodegradable plastics can be improved by developing composites or deploying enhanced blending technologies. Suitable measures have been initiated for the development of bio-and nanocomposites and studies have also been conducted by various corporate and academic sectors. The academic sector focuses in improving the mechanical properties of biodegradable plastics by incorporating bio-based materials that include natural fibers. The corporate sectors use nanomaterials that include carbon nanotubes for producing extra durable and strong materials.
Polyactic acid, polyhydroxyalkanoates and starch-based polymers are the technologies analyzed in this study apart from providing a technology outlook and overview for the biodegradable plastics.