Rapid Rise of PBAT Production Capacity in China

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PBAT production capacity in China

In 2019, the whole world is calling for a ban on traditional plastic bags. Many countries have given a timetable for banning plastics. Disposable plastic products and the ecological environment have conflicts.

How can this conflict be reconciled or balanced in the future? Strengthening waste classification, waste plastic recycling, and biochemical treatment of organic waste have become a global consensus.

Up to now, Chinese PBAT production capacity has reached 235,000 tons, surpassing the total overseas production capacity. A lot of companies have invested in PBAT resin production in 2019 and 2020.

PBAT ManufacturerMain BusinessCurrent PBAT CapacityFuture PBAT Capacity
JinfaPolymers, Biodegradable Plastics PBAT, PLA47.5 thousand tons137 thousand tons
Shandong RuifengPVC additive (ACR, MBS)060 thousand tons
LecronMonomer polyether polyol, system polyol for polyurethane foam, polyurethane prepolymer for elastomer020 thousand tons

Plastics continue to create new applications and continue to replace other traditional materials. In 2019, the global output of plastics has reached 400 million tons, which is the most important material for building human society.

In order to not only enjoy the performance and cost advantages of plastics but also alleviate the harm of waste plastics to the environment, compostable plastics came into being.

Polylactic acid (PLA) and PBAT are among the most promising materials. At present, the global production capacity of biodegradable plastics is about 1,000,000 ton, with an annual growth rate of more than 20%.

Bioplastic Trend

The currently used biodegradable materials include starch composite materials, PLA, PBAT, PBS, PHA, etc.

The total demand in 2019 is nearly 1.2 million tons, of which starch composite materials currently account for the largest proportion of 38%, and PLA and PBAT are ranked separately. Second and third, the proportions are 25% and 24%.

However, starch is a natural material with obvious performance defects and very limited range of use. It only get popular for its cheap price. The current industrial development is focused on synthetic bioplastics such as PLA and PBAT.

PBAT is a Petro Based Plastic

Biodegradable plastics can be divided into bio-based and petrochemical-based according to the raw materials.

  • Raw materials of PLA, PHA, PBS are crops
  • Raw materials of PBAT and PCL are crude oil.

Emissions can also break the society’s inherent perception of high carbon emissions from petrochemical products.

Why PBAT?

PBAT is a petrochemical-based degradable material. It is polymerized by terephthalic acid (PTA), adipic acid (AA) and butanediol (BDO). The raw materials are all derived from crude oil and coal, and the raw material cost is basically 6000-10000 Fluctuations between periods, maintaining the same trend as oil prices. If oil prices remain within the current range of around US$40/barrel, it is expected that the raw material cost of PBAT will not exceed RMB 7,000/ton.

biodegradable bag made with PBAT resin
Biodegradable Bag Made with PBAT Resin

Biodegradable plastic bags are generally a composite of PLA and PBAT. PBAT can occupy the largest share among them, mainly because the raw materials are relatively easy to obtain and the production technology is relatively mature.

PBAT is produced entirely through chemical synthesis, with a production scale of 100,000 tons, and raw materials are also bulk chemicals, so the unit price is relatively cheap among compostable plastics. The production scale of PHA and PBS is obviously small, resulting in a much higher unit price than PBAT.

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