January 04, 2022

Global Polybutylene Adipate Terephthalate (PBAT) Market Snapshot

NexantECA Global Polybutylene Adipate Terephthalate (PBAT) Market Snapshot

Polybutylene adipate terephthalate (PBAT) – also known as polybutyrate - is a semi-aromatic, biodegradable (and compostable) polymer and is produced by polycondensation of 1,4 butanediol (BDO), adipic acid, and purified terephthalic acid (PTA).  It is one of the most common biodegradable polymers.  It was developed from polybutylene terephthalate (PBT), a copolyester of PTA and BDO, by substituting aliphatic adipic acid for a portion of the PTA to make it biodegradable. 

Significant effort is ongoing to develop cost-competitive biodegradable polymers that are functionally suitable for widespread use.  Plastic producers have actively invested in technology under the pressure of stricter government regulations and end users increased preference for sustainable materials.  At the same time, consumer brands are making pledges to increase recycled and biodegradable materials content to address growing public concerns.  

As more sustainable products enter the market, categorization has become complex.  Products are frequently labelled as biodegradable, bio-based, or compostable.  Bio-based polymers are not necessarily biodegradable, and not all biodegradable polymers are bio-based.  PBAT is an example of a polymer that is biodegradable, but is not bio-based, although Novamont does utilize bio-BDO to produce PBAT. 

PBAT offers a valuable combination of technical properties with its exceptional toughness, durability, and good processibility.  Due to its biodegradability, PBAT is widely used in various single-use plastic goods.  However, due to its relatively high price, PBAT is mainly blended with other materials to make it less expensive, while maintaining its biodegradable properties.  Also, some applications require blending with other biodegradable polymers, such as polylactic acid (PLA), in order to achieve desired properties.  PBAT can be converted into plastic goods, similar to conventional thermoplastics, by methods such as injection moulding, blow moulding, extrusion, and others.

The major application for PBAT is in plastic bag production, in particular shopping bags and garbage bags, followed by food packaging, and mulch/agricultural film.  Other minor applications include using PBAT as a water-resistant coating for some products such as paper cups; as well as textile applications; consumer products such as tableware, tablecloths; medical such as gauze; hygiene products (diapers); and personal protective equipment such as gloves, breathing masks, etc.

The global PBAT market is approaching 300 000 tons in 2021, following strong double digit growth in 2020, despite the COVID-19 pandemic.  Demand growth has been strong, driven by requirements to reduce environmental issues, including plastic waste, emissions of greenhouse gases, and global warming.  PBAT was first introduced in 1998 but became popular along with other kinds of biodegradable plastics and bioplastics when these issues started to be addressed.  Regulation enforcement on biodegradable content has driven PBAT demand in developed regions.  Additionally, regulation enforcement has been strictly applied to imports of finished goods.  Thus, PBAT demand has also been driven in developing countries that supply finished products to developed regions.  Globally, PBAT demand will continue to grow rapidly, driven by the strong requirements for biodegradability of single-use plastics.

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Polybutylene Adipate Terephthalate (PBAT) - 2021 includes discussion regarding key market drivers and constraints, as well as supply, demand and trade analysis for nine regions: North America, South America, Western Europe, Central Europe, Eastern Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific, and China with forecasts to 2035.  Analysis, including competitive landscape, who’s who of suppliers and cost competitiveness along with price forecasts to 2035 and a snapshot of latest pricing trends is also included by region.

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