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Issue 02/2020

  • Text
  • Use
  • Horticulture
  • Agriculture
  • Thermoforming
  • Packaging
  • Films
  • Biobased
  • Biodegradable
  • Products
  • Plastics
  • Materials
  • Packaging
  • Bioplastics
Highlights: Agri-/Horticulture Thermoforming Rigid Packaging Basics Land use (update)

Basics How much biomass

Basics How much biomass do bio-based plastics need? An update on the “Land use” debate and facts on biomass use in general By: Michael Carus, Olaf Porc and Raj Chinthapalli nova-Institut Hürth, Germany In January, the nova-Institut biopolymer expert group published updated data on the worldwide production of biopolymers for the years 2018 and 2019 (see link below). Agricultural experts from the nova-Institut have now also completed an evaluation of the worldwide agricultural data for 2018 (data for 2019 are not yet available). Based on the insights from this new evaluation, it is now possible to update the figures on biomass and land used for bio-based polymers worldwide. Figure 1 shows the biomass used for bio-based polymers in 2018. In order to produce 3.4 million tonnes of bio-based polymers with an average bio-based share of 43%, 4.3 million tonnes of biomass were used – including conversion losses. The largest share of biomass comes from byproducts (46%), mainly glycerine from biodiesel production, which is used for the production of bio-based epoxy resins. Food crops for the production of e.g. PLA or bio-PE account for a total of 37%. 9% is cellulose for cellulose acetate and 8% is non-edible vegetable oils such as castor oil for polyamides. By contrast, chart 2 shows the biomass used worldwide in 2018. The animal feed sector (including grazing land) represents the largest share by far at 60%, followed by bioenergy (16%, mainly wood), food (12%), material use (10%, mainly wood for the construction industry) and biofuels (2%). Bio-based polymers, which currently account for about 1% of the total polymer market, play practically no role at all, at only 0.034%. For the sake of completeness, Charts 3 and 4 show the composition of the global biomass supply: 39% is harvested agricultural biomass, 30% pasture grass, 19% wood and 13% is made up of used crop by-products. Cellulose (49%) is the dominant type of biomass used, followed by sugar & starch (24%), proteins (11%), oils and fats (4%) and other biomass (12%), such as rubber. Readers interested in nova- Institute’s methodology of calculating supply and demand of biomass, we recommend the nova-Paper #7 – see link below). Finally, the question remains as to the area of agricultural and plantation land that is required for the production of biobased polymers. The 0.034% (see above) share of biomass used to produce bio-based polymers translates into an area share of only 0.004%. This is due to the various factors: high-yielding crops (like maize) are used for the production of bio-based polymers leading to a high area efficiency; the yields are not only used for polymer production but also for animal feed (the protein share) and thus only a part is allocated; and finally, because the biomass is a process byproduct that uses no land (such as glycerol). Fig. 1: 4,3 million tonnes biomass feedstock for 3,4 million tonnes bio-based polymers (with a 43 % bio-based share) in 2018 1 % Edible plant oil Fig. 2: Worldwide biomass demand 2018, total: 12,3 billion tonnes Biofuels 2 % 9 % Cellulose 8 % Non-edible plant oil Biopolymers 0.034 % Bioenergy 16 % Food 12 % 15 % Sugars 46 % Biogenic by-products Material use 10 % Feed 60 % 21 % Starch 50 bioplastics MAGAZINE [02/20] Vol. 15

Basics Edible & nonedible plant oils 4 % Conclusion and outlook Currently, the land and biomass required for bio-based polymers do not play a relevant role compared to other sectors and do not represent any relevant competition to other uses, in particular the food and feed sector. If 100% of the polymer demand were to be covered by biomass, the situation would be different. However, this scenario is highly unlikely, because new sources of renewable carbon will increasingly be used in the future, such as recycling, organic waste streams and the direct use of CO 2 . Moreover, biofuels will gradually be replaced by electric mobility and hydrogen, which would already release 2% of the biomass currently used for biofuels. This means that, under realistic scenarios, sufficient biomass will be available to meet future demand for bio-based polymers without endangering food safety. | | Fig. 3: Global biomass supply 2018 by sources, total: 12,3 billion tonnes dry matter Wood 19 % Protein 11 % Harvested residues 13 % Others 12 % Sugars & Starch 24 % Grazed biomass 30 % Harvested agricultural biomass 39 % Fig. 4: Global biomass supply in 2018 by biomass constituents, total: 12,3 billion tonnes dry matter Cellulose 49 % ‘Basics‘ book on bioplastics 110 pages full color, paperback ISBN 978-3- 9814981-1-0: Bioplastics ISBN 978-3- 9814981-2-7: Biokunststoffe 2. überarbeitete Auflage This book, created and published by Polymedia Publisher, maker of bioplastics MAGAZINE is available in English and German language (German now in the second, revised edition). The book is intended to offer a rapid and uncomplicated introduction into the subject of bioplastics, and is aimed at all interested readers, in particular those who have not yet had the opportunity to dig deeply into the subject, such as students or those just joining this industry, and lay readers. It gives an introduction to plastics and bioplastics, explains which renewable resources can be used to produce bioplastics, what types of bioplastic exist, and which ones are already on the market. Further aspects, such as market development, the agricultural land required, and waste disposal, are also examined. An extensive index allows the reader to find specific aspects quickly, and is complemented by a comprehensive literature list and a guide to sources of additional information on the Internet. The author Michael Thielen is editor and publisher bioplastics MAGAZINE. He is a qualified machinery design engineer with a degree in plastics technology from the RWTH University in Aachen. He has written several books on the subject of blow-moulding technology and disseminated his knowledge of plastics in numerous presentations, seminars, guest lectures and teaching assignments. Discounted price for this edition (as long as supply lasts) € 10.00 New edition scheduled for spring 2020 Order now for € 10.00 (discounted price) (+ VAT where applicable, plus shipping and handling, ask for details) order at, by phone +49 2161 6884463 or by e-mail Or subscribe and get it as a free gift (see page 57 for details bioplastics MAGAZINE [02/20] Vol. 15 51

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