The total consumption of biodegradable polymers in North America, Europe and Asia is forecast to grow at an average annual rate of nearly 13% over the five-year period from 2009 to 2014, says a report from SRI Consulting. The single largest end-use for this material will be the food packaging, dish and cutlery market, and will also be a major growth driver in the future.

In Europe, where the largest global market for biopolymers accounts for nearly half of global demand, annual growth in 2009 compared with 2008 hovered between 5 and 10%, depending on products and applications. In Europe, major market drivers for biodegradable polymers include legislation, shrinking landfill capacities, pressure from retailers, growing consumer interest in sustainable plastic solutions, increased focus on fossil oil and gas independence and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

As in Europe, North American consumption of biodegradable polymers has grown significantly in recent years. According to the study, the following factors have contributed to the market’s growth and are anticipated to do continue doing so:

• Improved costs associated with biodegradable polymers in comparison with petroleum-based products,
• Growing support at the local, state and federal levels for these products and for addressing needs about solid waste disposal,
• Increasing public awareness regarding the depletion of petroleum-based raw materials,
• Large retailers’, manufacturing companies’ increasing desire to develop more sustainable raw material sources, and
• Improving properties and processing of biodegradable polymers.