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Issue 01/2014

  • Text
  • Bioplastics
  • Plastics
  • Biobased
  • Materials
  • Recycling
  • Products
  • Biodegradable
  • Germany
  • Carbon
  • Automotive
Highlights: Automotive Foam Pharmafilter Land use

Report Old and New

Report Old and New Economy (2012 and 2017) In addition to these innovative and novel bioplastics, when considering the most important Old Economy bioplastics with their global production capacity of 17 million tonnes annually, it turns out that the share of New Economy bioplastics is 15 times lower, i.e. 7.5 % of the market volume of all biobased plastics (including the Old Economy bioplastics), with rising tendency. By and large, Old and New Economy bioplastics (about 18.5 million tonnes) have a combined share of presently 6 - 7 % of the global plastics market. Taking into account the anticipated market growth, especially of New Economy bioplastics, over a 5-year period the market share of Old and New Economy bioplastics is expected to reach a maximum of 10 % of the global market for plastics within the next 5 years. The corresponding land use of Old and New Economy bioplastics is currently at approximately 15.5 million hectares, which is equivalent to only 0.3 % of the global agricultural area or approximately 1% of the arable land. Comparing these figures reveals that New Economy bioplastics, which tend to be the sole focus of interest in land use discussions, use up only 3 % of the area required for all biobased plastics combined. Total substitution of all petro-based plastics by biobased plastics Even assuming, as a theory, that innovative biobased plastics would be introduced globally to fully substitute for the entire range of conventional petroleum-based plastics, this scenario would require just 1.5 - 2 % of the globally available agricultural area (approx. 5 billion hectares) or about 5 - 7 % of the currently available arable land (approx. 1.4 billion hectares). Contrary to common belief, this indicates that, even in view of significant growth forecasts, bioplastics are not in competition with food production! Alternative utilisation of renewable resources: Energy-related utilisation of renewable resources In the past few years energy crops, which are grown as biomass for generating heat, fuels and electricity, were covering an area of 2 million hectares in Germany. This is equivalent to almost 17 % of the total arable land in Germany. On the other hand, the cultivation of sugar, oil or starchbearing crops for material usage takes up a negligible area of 0.26 million hectares (2.1 % of the arable land) in Germany. On the other hand the German land use for biogas crops is nearly 1 million hectare. So it can be inferred that less than 50 % of the arable land used to grow corn for biogas production in Germany would currently be sufficient for the entire global production of bioplastics. To modify the example, German arable land for biogas production could be used to produce feedstock for 1.6 million tonnes of bio-PET. This means that almost 10 % of the global demand for PET (or more than 50 % of the European, and 350 % of the German demand), could be satisfied with the German biogas land use. German bio-ethanol for global biobased PE production: 613,000 tonnes of bio-ethanol, the total amount generated from growing fodder cereals and industrial beets on around 250,000 hectares of German arable land, would suffice to produce 295,000 tonnes of bio-PE. This means that even with the German land use for bioethanol the current global demand for the biobased PE, of approximately 200,000 tonnes, would be over-satisfied. To make things even more compelling, it is a fact that biobased plastics, even after multiple material usage, can still serve as an energy carrier. This means that additional crop lands, which are currently used for direct energy production, could be set aside for the production of bioplastics. Prior material usage of biomass, as in the case of bioplastics, still permits subsequent trouble-free energy recovery, whereas direct incineration of biomass (and also crude oil based products!) precludes an immediate Old and New Economy Biopolymers 1 PLA, PHA, PTT, PBAT, Starch blends, Drop-Ins (Bio-PE, Bio-PET, Bio-PA) and other 2 material use excl. paperindustry 3 calculations include linseedoil only 56.000 Linoleum 3 400.000 New Economy Biopolymers 1 2.900.000 140.000 Linoleum 3 1.395.000 New Economy Biopolymers 1 Global land use (ha) Cellulose 2 Global production capacity (t) 5.800.000 Cellulose 2 12.000.000 Natural Rubber 10.978.000 Natural Rubber 36 bioplastics MAGAZINE [01/14] Vol. 9

Report subsequent material usage. In this case, furthermore arable land for plant cultivation is needed and consequently another photosynthesis process, in order to gain new resources once again as feedstock for material usage. Starch consumption rate for the paper industry The starch consumption rate for the paper and board industry, for instance in Germany (2010 about 660.000 tonnes), would be enough to cover one third of the total amount of petro-based PET needed for the plastics processing industry in that country with a 100 % biobased PET. With a 30 % biobased PET even the whole German petro based PET could be substituted with the starch used for Paper and board industry in Germany. Renewable resources instead of food waste 25 % of all food products bought in Germany remain unused and are discarded. This amounts to 6.6 million tonnes (approximately 80 kg per person) each year. Increased awareness and prudent food purchases would avoid these losses and lead to an extra gain of 2.4 million hectares of arable land in Germany alone. This is six times the area currently used for New Economy bioplastics. Given that avoidably taken up area was used to produce bioplastics instead, it could substitute more than two-thirds of Germany’s PE demand with Bio-PE. Regarding PET with this wasted area in case of 100 % biobased PET more than 20 % of global PET and in case of a 30 % biobased PET even almost 80 % of global PET, i.e. 12.9 million tonnes could be substituted. Furthermore much less than 0.1 % of the global agricultural land taken up for producing discarded food (ca. 1.4 billion hectares according to FAO), would suffice to cover the current total production of New Economy bioplastics. Even when relating this context to the aforementioned maximum scenario of substituting biobased plastics for all petroleum based plastics, it can be reasonably calculated that around 7 % (in numbers 100 million hectares) of the global arable area that is now blocked in favour of discarded food would be sufficient. Against this background it seems entirely overstated to look at bioplastics - particulary the New Economy bioplastics - as the main cause or even a risk for food shortages! Plastic materials, including bioplastics, continue to make important contributions to improved transportation and storage of food products and help protect these from spoiling. More information on the market for bioplastics – free of charge A comprehensive statistical database for bioplastics has been established by the IfBB – Institute for Bioplastics and Biocomposites (Hanover University of Applied Sciences and Arts) and made available in 2013 via the Internet (see link in the box below). This platform provides free access to a wide range of information, including market figures, production capacities, regional distribution of bioplastics production, market shares for specific materials, detailed process routes for nearly all types of bioplastics, including conversion rates for the various process steps as well as feedstock and land use requirements, comparisons of area and feedstock efficiency, future forecasts, and more. Unrestricted access, free of charge, is provided via the Internet. All graphics and charts can be downloaded for free and used according to the copyright notice. 100 % Global land area 13,4 billion ha 37 % 10 Arable % land 1,4 billion ha Global agricultural area 5 billion ha Arable land 1,4 billion ha The database, with statistics, can be found at: 0,9 % Material Use 0,12 billion ha Bioplastics 0,003 % 0,00004 billion ha bioplastics MAGAZINE [01/14] Vol. 9 37

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