The following information is a Web Extra from the pages of Top Producer. It corresponds with the article "The Next Generation of Bioplastics." You can find the article in Top Producer’s January 2014 issue.
Metabolix also produces biochemicals C-3 and C-4. The company notes that the combined annual global market for conventional C4 biochemicals, used in applications ranging from high-performance engineering plastics to spandex, and C3, used in paints, coatings, diapers and adhesives, is estimated at more than $10 billion.
"Companies producing bioplastics and biochemicals need to find the right niche for their products and they need to be cost competitive," says David Grewell, an Iowa State University researcher. "If they are not cost competitive, bioplastics will always be a niche market."
Grewell doubts bioplastics will be able to compete with ethanol for corn use. "Only a few percent of crude oil produced gets turned into petro-chemical plastics," he says. "It is doubtful that bioplastics will be competitive with the fuel industry."
The fuel industry is 10 times the size of the plastic industry, says Steve Davies, NatureWorks spokesperson, adding that the plastic market will always be smaller than the fuel market.