Bioplastics in Brazil: Beyond the Green Speech

Published: 24 May 2010

By Alessandra Lancellotti

Bioplastics as a Growth Strategy to the Brazilian Chemical Industry

The Brazilian chemical industry is among the top 10 industries globally, with a major goal to be positioned among the top five. Several initiatives are being presented and put into practice in Brazil, supported by the Brazilian Association of the Chemical Industry (ABIQUIM), through a program called "Pacto Nacional da Indústria Química" (National Pact for the Chemical Industry). One of the main goals of this program is to make Brazil a global leader in green chemistry.

In this context, bioplastics will represent a major growth strategy to the Brazilian chemical industry. Bioplastics are still a nascent market in Brazil, mostly penetrating segments such as food packaging and agriculture films through imports and pilot scale productions. However, large production scales are expected to give a new shape to this market in the country.

An Incipient but Promising Market

The current market for bioplastics in Brazil is composed mostly by the resins polylactic acid (PLA), imported by Cargill and Cereplast; starch-based, produced by the Brazilian company Biomater; and poly-3-hydroxybutyrate (PHB), produced by the Brazilian company PHB Industrial. This market generates about $4 million to $5 million in revenues.

The level of awareness of using bioplastics in Brazil is still very low, and this poses a considerable challenge. Bioplastics are still considered a niche market, with cost and performance issues to be solved. Besides, the Brazilian consumers have the habit of reusing plastic bags as garbage bags. Supermarket chains are providing reusable bags or boxes, but there is a huge resistance from customers, especially because plastic bags are offered free-of-cost.

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