Bioplastics industry discussed economic and political developments at 15th EUBP Conference

As for many other industries, also for bioplastics 2020 had been an exceptional year. Thus, its industry representatives were eager to come together to analyse the last twelve months and discuss about future market opportunities and challenges.

Being the leading business forum for bioplastics, the annual European Bioplastics (EUBP) Conference, which took place from 30 November to 3 December 2020, provided the perfect platform. This year in a virtual format and with an interesting mix of topics that included the important policy processes as well as the latest industry innovations, the conference attracted a great number of participants from along the value chain of bio-based and biodegradable plastics.

In his opening speech, François de Bie, Chairman of the Board of European Bioplastics (EUBP), set the scene by emphasizing the important role of bio-based and compostable plastics in the European Union’s efforts to achieve a green circular economy. “Many of the European Commission’s Green Deal initiatives touch upon plastics. Our industry provides important solutions that help to achieve a circular economy in Europe”, said de Bie. Experts from the European Parliament, European Commission, and the private sector discussed the policy framework for bio-based as well as biodegradable and compostable plastics. A clear legal framework was understood as paramount to ensure reliability in decision-making, not only for the bioplastics industry, but for the whole bioeconomy. “Bioplastics can play a crucial role in delivering innovation, and we have to create a stable market for them”, said MEP Maria Spyraki. The need for sufficient and efficient research financing was another important finding and an integral topic in many of the conference sessions. “We need more research funding, and we have to streamline this investment for innovation to achieve a circular economy”, said MEP Spyraki.

More than in other years, the audience was excited to receive the latest global market data for the bioplastics industry. “Our industry has successfully weathered the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic. And the outlook for bioplastics is also promising as the global market is predicted to grow by 36 percent over the next 5 years”, commented François de Bie the new data. Flexible and rigid packaging still is the largest segment for bioplastics with 47 percent (0.99 million tonnes) of the total bioplastics market in 2020. Despite the continuous diversification of bioplastic applications, also in 2025 packaging will account for the largest share with 48 percent. Several conference sessions featured interesting innovations relevant for the packaging segment. In an impressive presentation by AGRANA, the Austrian company introduced its latest TPS (thermoplastic starch) solutions. A specific acidic and thermal treatment of starch films  was said to significantly improve the transparency of the material. In another presentation, Carbiolice gave an update on its enzymatic masterbatch intended to make PLA fully compostable also under domestic conditions. In this way, the French company’s product aims to overcome the limitations of PLA, thus enabling new applications for packaging.

The 16th edition of the European Bioplastics Conference will take place from 30 November to 1 December 2021 in the Mercure Hotel, Berlin.

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Written by Kevin Gambrill