How to start a bioplastics business
Many entrepreneurs are looking for futuristic business opportunities, and the business of bioplastics-related products is one of them. But, the knowledge in terms of technical know-how, market, exports, the product portfolio is lacking to start the business and it’s very usual for any new business. Moreover, the bioplastics industry is being established and the market is being developed. So it is in the developing phase and there are bright opportunities in near future.
There are three ways to involve in the manufacturing business related to bioplastics.
1. Biopolymer granules manufacturing
It converts natural feedstocks like sugarcane, corn, etc. into biopolymer granules like PLA, bio-PBS, etc. It is also possible to convert petroleum-based raw material into biopolymers like PBAT, PCL, etc.
It is a highly technology-driven business, years of R & D and patented technologies are the basic steps to start with. Pilot plants of various scales are required to continuously develop new applications and properties of any material.
In addition, it is a highly investment-intensive business. It requires huge investment to start and only giant companies are involved in it currently. For example, Natureworks, Total-Corbion, PTT MCC Biochem, Novamont, BASF, etc.
2. Biopolymer compounding
Here, various biopolymer materials with fillers and additives are mixed and palletized again for a specific application. The main aim of compounding is to improve the quality and lower the cost for any specific application, as the biopolymer granules like PLA, bio-PBS are costly comparatively.
It requires basic technical knowledge of biopolymers and the compounding process. Various formulations need to be developed by trials for various end applications and R & D would be always an ongoing process. Many small-scale industries are involved in these businesses and have significant market share like SKYi, FKuR, United biopolymers, etc.
It does not require much investment comparatively. The main investment would be in compounding extruder and raw materials. By trials of various materials, one can develop the company’s formulation for any specific product as per market demand. In terms of payback period and profitability, it is recommended.
3. Bioplastic products manufacturing
A wide range of single-use plastic products made of bioplastics are already available in the market, but the market is in the developing phase. New applications are also being developed. It converts biopolymer granules into finished products for consumers.
Here, the biggest market share is taken by single-use plastic products. Specifically, food packaging is developing rapidly.
For example, Mc Donald’s using PLA products, most of the airlines are using all single-use plastic products made of bioplastics, restaurants at airports, 4-5 star hotels, bakeries, food chain outlets, etc.
If one is manufacturing regular plastic products, one does not need to purchase new machinery. An existing machine can also be used for bioplastic product manufacturing by changing few parameters. It is easy and quick business comparatively. The market needs to be explored or created. Government policy and public awareness are major influencing parameters for this market.
Machinery and all the know-how are available locally everywhere, as there is not much difference in plant setup between petrochemical-based plastic products and bioplastic products. Branding and ground-level marketing are the key points to succeed.
Trading can also be done in this sector without any investment if the market is familiar. There are well established few trading companies, having a market share in domestic areas and doing good exports also.
As the bioplastic market is being developed now, immediate business stability should not be expected. But it is definite that the business has a very bright future and the market will be in their hands who gets involved in this phase.