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Biomaterials China News 1307

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Biomaterials China News 1307

In H1 2013, China's biomaterials industry witnessed a good development momentum. For example, PBS industry attracts many participants in China even though the domestic PBS market is not mature enough. In addition, China has made significant progress in the R&D and commercial application of polyamino acid, with the active efforts of some experts. Besides, the biodegradable plastics industry has seen a rapid development in the past few years.

The dynamics of some companies in the biomaterials industry also showed an active trend in June. For example, a PLA fiber project with a total investment of USD1.3 billion started construction in Nanle County, Henan Province on June 4, 2013. Myriant announced that it successfully commercialized the production of bio-based succinic acid in Lake Providence, Louisiana on June 17, 2013. Tetra Pak announced that it plans to sign an agreement with Braskem for the supply of bio-based LDPE to its packaging material factories in Brazil on June 26, 2013.

As for the raw material, the market price of domestic corn may witness a round of rises from July 2013, but the upward room may be limited.


In May 2013, the import and export volume of PLA decreased in May 2013, and the import volume of dry cassava also decreased. Besides, China's import volume and price of castor oil and its derivatives decreased as well in May 2013. 9. Jiangxi Bailian is to install the equipment of its fluorine chemical project in July 2013.Latest development trend of biodegradable plastics

In the past few years, the biodegradable plastics industry has witnessed a rapid development due to three main reasons.

Firstly, there is a considerable increase in the amount of biodegradable plastics used in the general products.

In the global market, the production capacity of biodegradable plastics and the market demand increases but its price is on the decline. According to the European Bioplastics Association, the global capacity of biodegradable plastics increased from 514,000 t/a in 2011 to 637,000 t/a in 2012, a increase of 28.39%. It is estimated that the global production capacity of biodegradable plastic will reach 776,000 t/a in 2013 and may reach 1,646,000 t/a by 2016. Meanwhile, the market demand for biodegradable plastics rises year by year and its growth rate is always seen higher than that of the production capacity. Besides, the price of biodegradable plastics is on the decline along with the accelerating industrialization, such as PLA (polylactic acid, the most popular biodegradable plastics), PBS, etc. Take PLA for example, the domestic price has sharply dropped to about USD 4,350/t (ex-factory price) in May 2013 through mass production. Furthermore, with the development of PLA film processing technology, the price gap between PLA and petroleum plastics will reduce.

The usage of biodegradable plastics will expand further in general products due to the recent developments as most of the global leaders in this area are developing better strategies. The European Union, the US, and Japan all possess a relatively sound system for environmental protection. For example, Germany exempted the recycling obligations and taxes of enterprises who are engaged in the production and sales of biodegradable plastics, while France and Spain have carried out a ban on the sales of PE (polyethylene) packaging bags from Jan. 1, 2013. Meanwhile, some developing countries like China are also actively promoting the applications of biodegradable plastics. For example, Hainan and Guangdong provinces in China jointly established the Bio-plastics Industry Alliance on June 3, 2013. Thus, it is estimated that biodegradable plastics will enjoy a broad market prospect. Although the current market share of biodegradable plastics is less than 1%, it's demand is increasing annually by 15%.

Secondly, the application scope of biodegradable plastics expanded from general products to durable products.

The international manufacturers of biodegradable plastics are driving the development of durable products. For example, Purac, the world's largest lactic acid (the raw material of PLA) producer at present, launched its heat-resistant PLA resin in Feb. 2013, kick starting the applications of biodegradable plastics in durable products. Nature Works, an international giant in PLA industry, exhibited its new high-performance Ingeo resin in the 27th International Exhibition on Plastics and Rubber Industries (CHINAPLAS 2013, from May 20-23, 2013). Ingeo resin showed an excellent balance of mechanical and thermal properties. In the domestic market, Zhejiang Hisun Biomaterials Co., Ltd., China's largest PLA producer, launched a new type of translucent PLA resin with high impact resistance and high heat resistance in May 2013. Bio-plus Materials Technology (Guangzhou) Co.,Ltd., a R&D oriented company engaged in PLA modification and application, has successfully commercialized the production of PLA foam sheet in collaboration with the Ningbo Institute of Materials Technology & Engineering in March 2013, which significantly improves the heat resistance (up to 120 ?) and melting point of PLA resin.

It is very clear that biodegradable plastics manufacturers are targeting the high-end durable products field, such as automotive, electronics and computer industries.

Thirdly, using non-grain raw materials to produce biodegradable plastics is becoming the development trend.

In order to ensure food security, utilizing straw, cellulose, algae and other non-grain raw materials to produce biodegradable plastics may become the latest development trend. Jiangsu Jinhe High-tech Co., Ltd. (Jiangsu Jinhe), a recently established domestic straw-based plastic producer with a capacity of 14,000 t/a, has just passed the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) testing conducted by SGS in May 2013 and the results indicate that its natural straw-based plastics are rated between 20%~50%. Nippon Electric Limited Partnership (NEC), a transnational corporation engaged in electronic products and communication network, developed the microbial plastics using Euglenophyta as the main raw material jointly with the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) and Miyazaki University in Jan. 2013 and stated that the microbial plastic is easy to process and its heat resistance is outstanding as well.

In addition, polyamide (made from castor oil) is also a kind of biodegradable plastic using non-grain raw materials. Due to it's excellent chemical resistance and heat resistance properties, this polyamide material has been applied in various high-end fields such as automotive fuel pipes and clothing fibers' fields. However, the supply of raw material (castor oil) may face a shortage if the large-scale production of polyamide is achieved.

In general, for a well-developed biodegradable plastics industry, the following factors prove to be vital.

Firstly, expanding the production scale of enterprises. In order to meet market demand and better achieve the commercial production scale, leading biodegradable plastics enterprises are actively expanding their capacity of biodegradable plastics such as PLA, PBS, etc. Meanwhile, small-scale production will result in relatively high production cost and unstable product quality, making the market promotion difficult.

Secondly, improving the properties of biodegradable plastics. At present, the properties of biodegradable plastics in terms of heat resistance, water resistance, mechanical strength, etc. are appalling compared to traditional plastics, resulting in difficulties in the large-scale market promotion of biodegradable plastics. Through modifications, the properties of biodegradable plastics may be improved and the production cost may be lowered, both of which may be conducive for the market promotion of biodegradable plastics.

Thirdly, support from the government. High cost of production is still the key factor restricting the development of biodegradable plastics, especially in China. This makes it harder for enterprises to make profit. Another factor restricting the usage is the low product awareness among the consumers. So the government's support is essential to break both these barriers. On Dec. 29, 2012, the Sate Council issued the Bio-industry Development Plan, which provides the guidance for China's biodegradable plastics industry and also indicates China's emphasis on this industry.

Shandong plans to build 2 new pesticides projects

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