In 2023, the global demand for biodegradable plastics may reach 550,000 tons, mainly due to the replacement materials for these 6 major disposable plastic products!

  • 2022-09-03
In 2023, the global demand for biodegradable plastics may reach 550,000 tons, mainly due to the replacement materials for these 6 major disposable plastic products!

In 2018, the global market for biodegradable plastics exceeded 1.1 billion US dollars, with a demand of 360,000 tons, with an average annual growth rate of 9%. Role, food packaging and other fields are developing the fastest.

Food packaging, disposable tableware (including cups, plates, cutlery, etc.) and plastic bags are the largest user markets for biodegradable plastics. Coupled with the current hot e-commerce express delivery, this is the main source of "white pollution" in China. Degradable plastics may not be able to undertake the task of solving "white pollution" at present, but it is a good choice at present, especially since the promulgation of the national plastic pollution control opinions on January 19, 2020, all kinds of disposable plastic products have replaced And degradation and upgrading technologies emerge in an endless stream, all of which play a certain role to a certain extent.

Alternative technology for single-use plastic products


  Polylactic acid

Polylactic acid (PLA) is a synthetic aliphatic polyester with a wide range of sources and renewable raw materials. Its production process is non-polluting, and the resulting product is biodegradable, making it a typical "green plastic". It has attracted much attention in the development of biodegradable plastic materials, and is also one of the ideal green packaging materials. PLA has a wide range of applications in packaging, fiber and medical fields, especially in packaging. The application of PLA in packaging mainly includes polylactic acid film, polylactic acid packaging film, polylactic acid disposable tableware, etc. At present, polylactic acid, succinic acid copolymer and modified starch plastics in biodegradable plastics have been marketed and supplied, but they cannot be widely promoted due to their high prices. However, according to the forecast of the United States, in a few years, the price of biodegradable plastics produced from corn will drop, and the development of PLA will also be greatly improved. In terms of replacement of disposable plastic products, PLA is mainly used for plastic bags, tableware, food packaging and 3D printing, such as PLA disposable food packaging bags and PLA food cups. It has the dual effects of economy and ecology, and makes a positive contribution to the control of white pollution.

 Polyhydroxybutyrate

Polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) is a polyester polymer that can be used to produce hot injection molded products such as bottle caps, pens, toys, food boxes and cosmetic boxes; it can also be pressed into sheets and fiberboards to meet automotive requirements. It can also produce foam plastic, which belongs to the PHA family and was first isolated and obtained by the French microbiologist Maurice Lemoigne. After PHB was produced by the Institute of Technology and Biomedicine of the University of São Paulo in Brazil and the sugarcane ethanol cooperative in the São Paulo region, it was found that PHB has similar physical and mechanical properties to synthetic resins such as PP, and most importantly, can be quickly degraded, such as traditional plastic degradation requires In 100 years, PHB products can be decomposed in only 12 months, and only water and carbon dioxide are released, which will not cause serious pollution to the environment, and is of great significance to the protection of the environment. In the 1980s, ICI developed a material for the pilot plant stage. But when the cost of the material became significantly too high, ICI's interest in it faded. In June 2005, a US company, Metabolix, was awarded the US Presidential Award for the development and commercialization of a cost-effective general process for the production of polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA) including polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB). Green Chemistry Challenge Award. The research group of Micromidas Inc.'s research group has started to use bacteria in municipal sewage to produce PHB. This attempt shows a future vision for human waste disposal and biodegradable plastic production. PHB is being used in the medical industry as an in vivo suture material, which is non-toxic and biodegradable, so it does not need to be removed when the wound has healed.
 
 polyethylene

Polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) is a water-soluble polymer developed and produced by Air Products in the United States. It can improve its stability by controlling the degree of hydrolysis of polyvinyl acetate and adding corresponding additives. Its trade name is Vinex. Soluble in hot or cold water. Water-soluble PVA film is a new type of plastic degradation product in the world. It utilizes the film-forming properties of PVA and the two degradation characteristics of water and biology. It can be completely degraded into carbon dioxide and Water is a green high-tech environmental protection packaging material. In terms of replacement of disposable plastic products, in Europe, America and Japan, water-soluble PVA film has been widely used in the packaging of various products. In my country, the development of water-soluble PVA film is still in its infancy, and industrial research and development has only really begun in the past 5 years. The annual consumption of PVA in this regard is about 10,000 tons.


CO2 copolymer

Carbon dioxide is an important carbon resource in development. One of its effective utilization methods is to copolymerize with epoxides and other monomers to form aliphatic polycarbonates, and this reaction can now be achieved relatively smoothly. The first foreign countries to study carbon dioxide copolymers were the United States and Japan, but they have not carried out industrial production; domestic Inner Mongolia Mengxi Group Co., Ltd. adopts the technology of Changchun Institute of Applied Chemistry to produce carbon dioxide copolymer biodegradable plastics, and its products are mainly used in packaging and medical applications. on the material. The low molecular weight carbon dioxide copolymer technology developed by Dr. Chen Liban from the Guangzhou Institute of Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences has also been put into production in Taixing, Jiangsu. Packaging of household appliances. Carbon dioxide copolymers have obtained important applications in many aspects, and are expected to be widely used polymer materials in the next century. In terms of replacement of disposable plastic products, carbon dioxide copolymers are mainly used in agricultural plastic film products, packaging materials, garbage bags and other fields. Because carbon dioxide copolymer has good gas barrier properties, transparency and full degradation properties, it has its unique advantages in food packaging, food packaging, drug packaging, medical materials, etc.

Since carbon dioxide is a relatively cheap carbon and oxygen resource in nature, the synthesis of biodegradable aliphatic polycarbonates from carbon dioxide has become an important research topic. However, due to its poor thermal and mechanical properties, PPC The industrialization of PPC is still in the initial stage, and it is necessary to continuously develop new and efficient catalytic systems, improve the polymerization process, and greatly reduce production costs; on the other hand, due to the obvious cost advantages of PPC, modification methods such as copolymerization and blending are expected to be used in sheet, It has important application prospects in many fields such as adhesives. At present, a number of companies, such as Empower materials and Novomer in the United States, Mengxi Group in China, and SKEnergy in South Korea, have made related industrialization attempts.

 Polycaprolactone


Polyε-caprolactone (PCL) is a low-melting polymer obtained by ring-opening polymerization of ε-caprolactone. Its melting point is only 62 °C. It is a commercial biodegradable plastic. It has great ductility, and has excellent biocompatibility and memory. It is widely used in the medical field, such as tissue engineering scaffold materials, which can be absorbed and excreted by the human body. The degradability of PCL has been studied since 1976. In both anaerobic and aerobic environments, PCL can be completely decomposed by microorganisms. Caprolactone derivatives such as caprolactone-modified polyols, caprolactone acrylic monomers, caprolactone polymers obtained after ring-opening from ε-caprolactone are successfully used as chemical reaction intermediates and modifications agent. Compared with PLA, PCL has better hydrophobicity, but the degradation rate is slower; meanwhile, its synthesis process is simple and the cost is lower. PCL has excellent processing performance, and can be made into films and other products by ordinary plastic processing equipment.

 Polybutylene succinate and its copolymers

Polybutylene succinate (PBS) entered the field of materials research in the 1990s, and quickly became one of the hottest materials for general-purpose biodegradable plastics that can be widely applied. Compared with PCL, PHB, PHA and other degradable plastics, PBS is extremely cheap, and its cost is only 1/3 of the former or even lower, and its heat resistance is good. The source of its synthetic raw materials can be either petroleum resources or fermentation of biological resources, so it has attracted great attention from the scientific and technological and industrial circles. It has good processing performance and is the best processing performance among degradable plastics at present. At the same time, a large amount of calcium carbonate, starch and other fillers can be blended to obtain low-cost products. Its comprehensive performance is excellent, the cost performance is reasonable, and it has a good application prospect. Anhui Anqing Hexing Chemical Company has built a 10,000-ton PBS production line using the technology of Tsinghua University. In terms of replacing disposable plastic products, PBS can be widely used in packaging, compostable and degradable tableware, cosmetic bottles and medicinal bottles, disposable medical supplies, agricultural mulching films, pesticides and chemical fertilizer slow-release materials, biomedical polymer materials and other fields. It can effectively and fundamentally solve the problem of white pollution.

Degradation and upgrading technology of disposable plastic products

Starch-based biodegradable plastic is generally a blend of modified starch and biodegradable polyester (PLA/PBAT/PBS/PHA/PPC, etc.), which can be completely biodegradable, compostable, non-polluting to the environment, and waste suitable for composting , landfill and other treatment methods, its environmental significance lies in that it can reduce the use of petrochemical resources, reduce carbon dioxide emissions, and waste is suitable for incineration. This material can replace traditional petroleum-based plastics and is widely used in plastic packaging materials, shock-proof materials, Plastic film and plastic bags, disposable tableware, food containers, toys, etc.

In terms of upgrading the degradation technology of disposable plastic products, corn starch degradable tableware is made of natural corn starch and plant fiber as the base material, supplemented by bio-polyester, polyol and other substances, and its starch content can reach up to 80%. %, can be degraded naturally in soil and natural environment, no pollution and no damage to the environment. With the promulgation of the ban on plastics, the current domestic and international market demand for cornstarch tableware has increased. It is reported that this product has landed in Italy, the United States and other developed countries in Europe and the United States that attach importance to low-carbon environmental protection, and has been recognized and praised. In the long run, corn starch environmentally friendly tableware is expected to gradually become popular and become the mainstream of tableware products.


 Capacity Analysis of Disposable Plastic Products Substitution and Degradation Upgrade Technology

Analysis of products and production capacity related to the replacement and degradation upgrade technology of disposable plastic products of domestic enterprises As of 2019, the capacity utilization rate of domestic biodegradable plastics enterprises is basically less than 50%, and the average capacity utilization rate of biodegradable plastics industry is about 30%. It is estimated that the output of modified plastics in China in 2020 will be about 195,000 tons, most of which will be exported to the European market. With the substantial increase in the demand for biodegradable plastics in Europe, Australia, South Korea and other regions, the export of domestic biodegradable plastics will maintain rapid growth in the future, and the capacity utilization rate will increase rapidly.

Epilogue

In general, the performance of biodegradable plastic products cannot fully meet the needs of consumers. Although there are many varieties on the market, the mechanical and processing properties of each material are only outstanding in one aspect. There are deficiencies of one kind or another, which will be one of the bottlenecks restricting its market application promotion. While developing biodegradable plastic products, domestic enterprises should pay attention to accelerating the development of innovative products and uses with independent intellectual property rights. For example, polylactic acid will improve the polymerization process under the premise of improving fermentation technology, so that it will be widely promoted and applied; the development of starch plastics will replace polyethylene materials in the future to make disposable daily necessities and agricultural mulch films. Biodegradable plastics have demonstrated an environmental science for human beings, and it is also one of the important means to solve environmental problems. The testing, evaluation and standard system will become more and more perfect, and the technologies related to the manufacture, processing, application, and recycling of biodegradable plastics will also become more mature. my country's biodegradable plastics must have good development prospects. At that time, biodegradable plastics can undertake Solve the important task of "white pollution".

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