Keller Heckman | Biobased Plastics and the Sustainability Puzzle


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As consumer interest in sustainable alternatives to fossil-based plastics continues to grow and food and beverage companies set goals to reduce their environmental footprint, the use of biobased plastics in food packaging is expanding. Revenue for the U.S. biobased plastics manufacturing sector was $177.9 million annually, according to a 2018 report prepared for U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), titled, An Economic Impact Analysis of the U.S. Biobased Products Industry. The report also estimates a 4.5% grow rate for the sector over the five years from 2018 through 2023.

The total production volume of bio-based building blocks and polymers (worldwide) was 7.5 million tons in 2018, or about 2% of the production volume of petrochemical polymers, with a growth rate of 4% expected through 2023, according to a report by Nova-Institute GmbH. The potential for significant growth is much higher, but low oil prices and a lack of political support are hampering growth, notes the report.

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