Market Study Compostable Plastic Products in Europe

Editor: Rosemarie Stahl

Nova-Institute publishes the first comprehensive market study on the consumption of biodegradable and compostable plastic products in Europe: 100.000 tonnes in 2015, market demand could grow to beyond 300.000 t in 2020.

Bestselling products in the European markets for biodegradable plastics.
Bestselling products in the European markets for biodegradable plastics.
(Nova-Institute)

Compostable plastic bags dominate the market for biodegradable plastics in Europe. They not only carry goods and biowaste but also the hopes of the bioplastics industry for huge markets in years to come. The legal framework and composting infrastructure of EU member states were found to be either the bottleneck or the key driver for market development. These are some of the main findings by the expert team at nova-Institute who researched the European market demand for biodegradable polymers by country as well as application, and analysed framework conditions in detail. The market of compostable and biodegradable plastic products grew to 100.000 tonnes in 2015, and could grow to beyond 300.000 tonnes in 2020—if the legal framework were to be set more favourably.

Gallery

The study “Consumption of biodegradable and compostable plastic products in Europe” found that about two thirds of all products on the market are compostable bags, mainly used for shopping or the collection of biowaste. All other sectors show a wide variety of different products but most of them are still small in volume. "It was amazing to see that businesses have found a real market and product focus" says Michael Carus, Managing Director of the German Nova-Institute, "The value proposition for biodegradable polymers has become much clearer now". The research team analysed the consumption of biodegradable polymers such as PLA- or starch-based plastics by application, geography and polymer type.

The Influence of Policies and Legislation

An in-depth analysis of markets, along with policies and current legislation was carried out for Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, the UK, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland and the Scandinavian countries. “We were surprised that policies and legislation have such a strong impact on market development today” author of the study and chief-analyst Harald Kaeb explains. In 2015, Europe enacted legislation to reduce the number of single-use carrier bags. Italy, for example, was the first country to encourage compostable plastic bags. Legislation does not only affect shopping bags but also other types of plastic bags. Implementation of bag reduction measures by EU member states could also promote innovations in the area of bio-based and biodegradable plastics. Projections on market growth by 2020 were found to be heavily dependent on what policy scenario will be applied.

Italy has become the geographical market leader due to “bagislation”, whereas German markets have been seriously hampered by an unfavourable legislation on biowaste. Markets react sensitively to the framework conditions in each country, as shown by volumes and types of product.

With suitable and solid European standards for compostability and biodegradability and a more favourable legal framework, the demand in Europe can grow to more than 300.000 tonnes in 2020. Incentives to avoid non-biodegradable microplastics in the environment and for strengthening the Circular Economy could work as additional drivers for increasing demand.

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