produce bioplastics continues to grow at a brisk rate. It's not so clear,
however, if demand is keeping pace.
bioplastic production capacity will reach one million metric tons this year,
and will more than double from 2010 to 2015, according to a study presented by
the European Bioplastics association at the interpack
trade fair being held this week in Düsseldorf, Germany.
was developed in conjunction with the University of Applied Sciences and Arts
of Hanover, Germany.
encouraging trend in production capacity allows us to assume, that the figures
presented today will even be exceeded in the coming years," says Hasso von
Pogrell, managing director of European Bioplastics.
A big shift
is taking place in market orientation.
In 2010, the
bioplastics industry focused on biodegradable materials, totaling around
400,000 metric tons compared to 300,000 tons of biobased commodity plastics.
will be reversed in the coming years.
study shows that biobased commodity plastics, with a total of around one million
tons, will make up the majority of production capacity in 2015.
materials will, however, also grow substantially and will reach about 700,000
tons by then," says Professor Hans-Josef Endres of the University of Applied
Sciences and Arts of Hanover.
interesting that the trade group's study focuses on "capacity" and not
signs that American producers are disappointed in the slow sales uptick for
plastics made from renewable resources, such as corn.
and Archer Daniels Midland opened a 50,000 tons per year plant in Iowa last
year to produce bioplastics. It's not clear how long it may take to fill out
that capacity, but Metabolix management recently told investors that the
scheduled transition to commercial stage for its Mirel polymers is being pushed back a
few months. The reasons are partially technical.
we are seeing smaller innovative customers move faster than the larger
customer, which leads to a somewhat smaller initial order size in what we
expect to see in the long-term," says Metabolix CEO Richard Eno.
Some of the
strongest demand is coming from Europe, where countries such as Italy have
banned bags that don't biodegrade.
another bioplastics' startup, had two customers last year that represented 63
percent of its sales. Seventy-seven percent of its sales last year were to
customers outside the United States.
A recent survey
conducted by Design News shows that
engineers have significant interest in plastics made from renewable resources but
only if significant issues can be overcome. These include high costs and
Researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have published two physics-based models for the selective laser melting (SLM) metals additive manufacturing process, so engineers can understand how it works at the powder and scales, and develop better parts with less trial and error.
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