PLA Plastic Materials Market
The COVID-19 epidemic has had an impact on the chemical market, but the bio-plastic-polylactic acid (PLA) continues to grow at a high level, and the packaging-related market for the main purpose is showing a good prospect. According to Total Corbion PLA, the new crown pneumonia virus epidemic has not affected the PLA market and continues to grow at a rate of 10 to 20%. NatureWorks also said that PLA sales in the first quarter of 2020 increased compared to the same period last year.
Due to the economic stagnation or economic recession caused by the COVID-19 epidemic, the demand for synthetic resins for automobiles and home appliances has been sluggish. However, due to closure measures such as city closures and store closures, the consumption of processed food, and the use of home delivery services have increased. The demand for petrochemical and biomass packaging-related resins has shown steady growth.
On the other hand, with the increasing environmental awareness of plastic waste issues, the pace of switching to bio-plastics has accelerated, which has also promoted the increasing adoption of PLA. Total Corbion PLA said that European food supermarkets have expanded the use of PLA for vegetable packaging since the beginning of this year. In addition, major brands such as food and beverages continue to show their thinking of attaching importance to sustainable development and circular economy. Therefore, PLA is not affected by the economy and demand continues to grow.
However, PLA is still insufficient in supply. The world market of PLA in 2019 is estimated to be about 200,000 tons. Except for NatureWorks, which has a PLA plant with an annual production capacity of 150,000 tons in the United States, the scale of the rest of the industry is small. Although Total Corbion PLA has set up a PLA plant with an annual capacity of 75,000 tons in Thailand and started commercial production in 2018, the cropping rate in 2019 is only 30%, and it is estimated to reach 70% in 2020. It will be fully operational in 2021. It is expected that the global PLA supply and demand will remain urgent.
The full name of PLA plastic is Poly Lactic Acid. The main raw materials are corn, sugar beet, wheat, sweet potato, and other starch or sugar, which are manufactured through fermentation, dewatering, polymerization, and other processes, and are non-toxic. There is no pollution during the production process, and the raw materials are biodegradable materials, which realize the circulation in nature, so PLA is an ideal green polymer material.