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Issue 05/2015

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Basics Basics Land use

Basics Basics Land use (update) By: Hasso von Pogrell Managing Director European Bioplastics Berlin, Germany How much land is being used for the production of biobased plastics? SHAPING SMART SOLUTIONS Register now! 5/6 November 2015 MARITIM proArte Hotel Berlin For more information email: Esteemed an important pillar of the European bioeconomy by the European Commission, the bioplastics industry has developed dynamically in recent years demonstrating a significant growth potential. Global production capacities are predicted to grow from 1.6 million tonnes in 2013 to approximately 6.7 million tonnes in 2018. A maintained and fair access to sustainably grown biomass is critical to guarantee this growth. For the production of currently 1.6 million tonnes of biobased plastics into approximately 600,000 hectares of land are needed to grow sufficient feedstock. This translates to about 0.01 % of the entire global agricultural area of 5 billion hectares. Biomass grown for material use in general (including the share for the productions of bioplastics) amounts to roughly 2 % of the global agricultural area. In contrast to that, growing food, feed, and use of land as pastures account for about 97 %. The sheer difference in volume shows that there is no competition between biomass use for food and feed, and for material use. Assuming a continued high and maybe even politically supported growth of the bioplastics market, at the current stage of technological development, a global production capacity of around 6.7 million tonnes could be reached by 2018 for which about 1.3 million hectares land would be needed. Even at this growth rate, the predicted land use only equates to approximately 0.02 % of the global agricultural area.. What is more, the aforementioned calculation (which was done by the IfBB Hanover) assumes that the feedstock grown on the land (600,000 ha in 2013 and 1.3 million ha in 2018) is solely allocated to the production of biobased plastics. In many cases, however, this will not be the case, but an integrated production processes will create more than just one product out of the feedstock. This means that food, feed, and industrial products will all be produced from the same plant, in which case the actual land-use for bioplastics would be much lower than the already very small area predicted by European Bioplastics. Another important aspect that should be taken into account is the increasing share of food residues, non-food crops or cellulosic biomass used for the production of bioplastics, which will lead to even less land demanded for bioplastics than the numbers predicted above. Industrial use of biomass is neither in competition with the production of food and feed, nor the use of land as pastures. In order to continue to make reliable claims and forecasts, accurate calculations are needed. Therefore, European Bioplastics is driving this important topic 48 bioplastics MAGAZINE [05/15] Vol. 10

Basics together with renowned specialists such as market research and policy consultancy nova- Institute and the Institute for Bioplastics and Biocomposites of the University of Applied Arts and Sciences Hannover (both Germany). Both institutes will present their latest insights at the 10th European Bioplastics Conference on 5/6 November 2015 in Berlin and share their newest data on the biomass available for industrial production (nova-Institute) as well as different calculation scenarios for an accurate determination of land-use for biobased plastics production. Hans-Josef Endres from the IfBB pointed out that in order to engage in the discussion on land use for biobased plastics, accurate calculations are needed. A comprehensive sensitivity analysis of the IfBB shows that land use calculation is impacted by a lot of different factors. “We identified strong impact factors, like the assumed biomass yields, variable crops producing the same polymer feedstock, different processing routes for equal bioplastics, postulated biobased amounts and particularly the inclusion of old economy bioplastics like cellulosics or even rubber. Other impact factors like allocation or conversation rates often have a much lower and therefore overestimated influence on results of land use calculations.” Florence Aeschelmann and Michael Carus from nova- Institute confirm that it is important to allocate the land only to the actual amount of biomass used for the production of bioplastics: “Only a certain part of the harvested biomass is used for the production of bio-based polymers – other parts are used for food, feed or energy.“ The table below shows the biomass allocation between bio-based plastics and other uses, the correction factor, and the lower land use number taking the adopted allocation into account. Stakeholders interested in this important topic should not miss this year’s anniversary of the leading bioplastics conference in Europe. Bio-based polymer Biomass Bio-based plastics Biomass allocation to Food, feed and others Correction factor Land use ha/t full allocation to bio-based plastics Land use ha/t bio-based polymer, nova-Institute with allocation to all uses (w. correction factor) PLA100 Sugar beet 70 % 30 % 0.7 0.18 0.13 PLA100 Sugar cane 30 % 70 % 0.3 0.16 0.05 PLA100 Wheat 60 % 40 % 0.6 1.04 0.62 PLA100 Corn 75 % 25 % 0.75 0.37 0.28 PET30 Sugar cane 30 % 70 % 0.3 0.08 0.024 PE Sugar cane 30 % 70 % 0.3 0.48 0.14 Source: nova-Institute Global land area 13.4 billion ha = 100 % Global agricultural area 5 billion ha = 37 % GLOBAL AGRICULTURAL AREA Pasture 3.5 billion ha = 70 %* Arable land** 1.4 billion ha = 30 %* Food & Feed 1.24 billion ha = 26 %* Material use 106 million ha = 2 %* Biofuels 53 million ha = 1 %* Source: European Bioplastics | Institute for Bioplastics and Biocomposites, nova-Institute (October 2015) Bioplastics 2013: 0.6 million ha = 0.01 %* 2018: 1.3 million ha = 0.02 %* * In relation to global agricultural area ** Also includes 1 % fallow land bioplastics MAGAZINE [05/15] Vol. 10 49

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