The environmental impact of plastics has pushed biopolymers to the fore, albeit not always in a positive way. Interest from market parties is growing – just look at the efforts of companies like Coca-Cola and IKEA. These enterprises – and they are certainly not the only players – want to use renewable raw materials as much as possible so these can then be recycled, possibly together with ‘virgin’ materials. ‘Biopolymers are going from strength to strength,’ says Gertjan Visse, project leader at the BAC, ‘but they still only have a fraction of the total market. The market is dominated by fossil polymers, which is hardly surprising given the current oil price. Biopolymers which compete directly with fossil counterparts, such as bio-PET and PET, are having a hard time. But biopolymers with functions that stand out from the rest are less affected by price competition. These properties include biodegradability, better barrier properties and an attractive look-and-feel. The more favourable CO2 footprint of biopolymers is a purchasing argument for parties which are consciously trying to be more sustainable, but for most businesses, the price tag will be the deciding factor.’
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