Question: Could you give us a short overview of the China‘s bioplastics market – in particular which materials are being produced and how the market is developing?
Answer: Bioplastic materials produced in China include PBAT, PLA, PHA, PVA, PPC, etc. The combined existing production capacity is about 85,000 tonnes per annum.
At present the majority of biobased and biodegradable raw materials, modified materials and final products, such as shopping bags and food wares etc., are exported to Europe, Australia and US. Bioplastics product consumption in China is minimal.
The situation, however, will be changing as Jilin province in North China has launched a policy to ban traditional plastics in certain areas, e.g. shopping bags and disposable food packaging from 1 Jan 2015. A market demand of 20,000 tonnes of bioplastic products is estimated from the ban on plastics in Jilin in 2015, and we foresee other provinces in China following Jilin with similar policies. That will open a huge market for bioplastics in China.
Question: Is there a specific policy framework in place and/or what measures and/or initiatives would be required in China to guarantee strong development in the bioplastics market in the future?
Answer: A central government policy – “Ban on Plastic Bags” – has been in place since 1 June 2008, under which the plastic shopping bags thinner than 0.025 mm are not allowed to be produced, sold and used in China. All supermarkets, shopping malls and wet markets are requested to provide priced plastic shopping bags only; free plastic shopping bags have been banned in China.
Following this policy, a few provinces in China also launched provincial policies to restrict the use of traditional plastic bags. Yunnan Province, for example, implemented a trial project for agricultural film. However, the effect did not live up to expectations and most of the projects were terminated half way through due to weak policy implementation.
In view of China’s political and economic system, the most important thing to promote bioplastics development in China is support and encouragement from government. The Chinese government needs to formulate more specific regulations and emphasise their implementation.
In early 2014, the Jilin provincial government launched a policy to ban traditional plastic products in certain areas including shopping bags and disposable food packaging. Learning from prior experience, the Jilin government issued the detailed and specific regulations to ensure the implementation of the new policy. They also encouraged domestic and international bioplastics producers to set up factories in Jilin to supply the local market.
As a result many bioplastics materials and final product producers have settled in High Technology Industry Zone in Changchun City, the capital of Jilin Province. The JinHui Group is part of this development as one of the big players in the bioplastics sector. With the full backing of the provincial government and Jinlin’s NDRC (National Development and Reform Commission), I am confident that Jilin will achieve the target becoming the first successful region in China to undertake such a move.
As I understand, other provinces are passing similar regulations. This trend will significantly change the standing of the bioplastics industry in China.
This article is reproduced with permission from the European Bioplastics association.