As low carbon and eco-friendly environments emerge as keywords to cope with climate change, bio-plastics that replace existing oil-based plastics are drawing attention. Bioplastics are made by synthesizing polyester in the body of microorganisms that can be decomposed in soil after disposal.
According to a recent report released by the Korea Institute for Future Strategy, bio-plastics has about half the CO2 emissions in the manufacturing process compared to PP, an oil-based plastic, and has low ecological hazards, making major countries’ efforts to lead related industries active.
Global bioplastic production is estimated to be 2.115 million tons in 2019, and it is expected to grow 3.2 percent annually by 2024. In particular, biodegradable plastics accounted for the largest portion of biodegradable plastics at 56 percent in 2019. They are expected to account for 45 percent and at 55 percent in 2024.
Governments and companies in major countries are making various efforts to establish joint ventures to preempt the bio-plastics industry. The U.S. is boosting related industries with a goal of replacing 30 percent of its oil consumption with bio-chemical products by 2030.
Dupont in the U.S. is known to produce 45,000 tons of bio-based plastic materials annually by establishing a joint venture Dupont Tate & Lyle with Tate & Lyle in the Netherlands. The EU is also focusing on developing bio-based technologies through its innovation program called ‘Horizon 2020. In Korea, the development of related technologies centered on large companies such as LG Chem and CJ continues, but it will take time for the business to move forward due to somewhat higher prices and less demand than oil-based plastics.
CJ is planning to speed up mass production of PHA, a 100% marine biodegradable and eco-friendly plastic material, by 2021. LG Chem succeeded in developing new biodegradable materials that can be mechanically equivalent to synthetic resins for the first time in the world, and plans to mass-produce prototypes in 2022 and mass-produce them in earnest in 2025.
Koo Ji-sun, a researcher at the KDB Future Strategy Research Institute, said in the report, “This is an opportunity to revitalize the bio-plastics industry at the moment when private eco-friendly investment is expanding, and we should build a foundation for revitalization of related industries through close cooperation between the public and private sectors.”
Source: KDB Research Center. (n.d.). Current Status and Challenges of Bioplastics Industry. Retrieved December 26, 2020, from https://www.bioin.or.kr/board.do?num=303233&cmd=view&bid=industry