In recent years, white pollution is drawing a lot of attention and the voice of biodegradable plastic bags has become higher and higher. Polylactic acid (PLA) has gradually entered the public’s vision.
From 2015 to 2020, the annual growth rate of the global PLA market will reach 20.9%, and by 2020, its global market will reach 5.16 billion US dollars.
The Advantage of Polylactic acid
Polylactic acid plastic products have good biodegradability. They can be completely composted in nature after use. It turns into carbon dioxide and water therefor achieving a green cycle in nature. Therefore, polylactic acid has been recognized as the most promising environmentally friendly material to replace petroleum-based plastics.
In addition to excellent biodegradability, the transparency and mechanical properties of polylactic acid are similar to those of petroleum-based polymers such as polystyrene and polyethylene terephthalate. Polylactic acid has a good processing and molding performance. It can be processed by injection molding, blistering, extrusion molding, blown film molding, foam molding, etc. It has good bacteriostatic properties, and can be widely used in plastic products, textile fibers, packaging materials, medical and health. The market is very promising.
PLA materials have the advantages of green environmental protection, energy saving and emission reduction, and renewable raw materials. Not only can they fundamentally solve the problem of white pollution, but also they can greatly reduce the oil consumption of the materials industry and ease the pressure on petrochemical resources.
PLA Supply Shortage in 2019
“This year, everyone is looking for PLA everywhere.”An Chinese plastic resin industry insider
He said that even if he contacted Hisun, it is difficult to get the resin supply. For a while, PLA was in short supply. It is understood that the global PLA production capacity has not exceeded one million tons. At present, the production of PLA is mainly concentrated in the United States, China, Germany, and Japan, such as NatrueWorks in the United States, Inventa-Fischer in Germany, and UNTTKA, Teijin, Mitsui Chemicals in Japan.
Current Polylactic acid Manufacturers in China
The largest Chinese polylactic acid company is Zhejiang Hisun, with an annual production capacity of 15,000 tons. Shanghai Tongjieliang, Nantong Jiuding and Guanghua Weiye have annual production capacity of more than 1,000 tons.
Jiangsu Yunyoucheng, Hengtian Yangtze River, COFCO, Foxconn, Piao’an Group and other companies have completed or plan to construct polylactic acid projects with an annual output of 10,000 tons. Recently, Zhejiang Youcheng has invested in a polylactic acid project with an annual output of 500,000 tons in Chongzuo, Guangxi.
“Once Zhejiang Youcheng is start production, it will greatly release the market demand for PLA products. By then, the global PLA production capacity is expected to exceed one million tons, forming a market of 100 billion scale.
Two limitations of PLA: Technology and Cost
Due to the characteristics of the material, PLA is difficult to achieve high temperature resistance, which greatly limits its scope of application. Daily products like compostable bags, garbage bags, bin liners, shopping bags is ok. But it is not easy to use in the industrial sector unless there are major technological innovation.
High cost is another limitation of PLA. “Take our common 1000ml fast food box as an example, the market price of PLA material is basically close to 1.0 yuan / piece, while the price of ordinary PP material is generally around 0.3 yuan / piece. The price has more than doubled, so, Market acceptance is not very high. “
“In China, the output is more than 100,000 tons a year, plus some exports. Therefore, the supply of PLA has been relatively tight.” The professional also said that the domestic waste classification has begun and many people are optimistic about the prospects of PLA. All want to make an investment in advance so that they can get a cut in the future market.
Development of International Enterprises
Polylactic acid companies are mainly located in the United States, Japan and European countries, with leading production technology and large production capacity. The strongest companies are companies that specialize in the production and sale of PLA. At present, NatureWorks is the world’s leading PLA company with partners all over the world. Many manufacturers around the world use its Ingeo resin to process and produce PLA products. In recent years, new PLA formulations for 3D printing have been continuously introduced. The high temperature resistant PLA jointly developed by Total Corbin is also in the world’s leading ranks. Total Corbin’s new plant under construction has a huge capacity and is one of the powerful competitors in the future.