Bioplastics Innovation: Commercialisation strategies for Polyethylene Furanoate (PEF) and Polyhydroxy alkanoates (PHA)

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Plastics have become ubiquitous materials essential for modern life and sustaining the global economy. On the other hand, their dependence on dwindling fossil fuel sources and their durability has raised concerns about their sustainability. Biobased plastics, which includes biodegradable plastics appear to be an appealing solution, yet their uptake has been slow. This paper specifically looks at the commercialisation challenges for two bioplastics: PEF (polyethylene furanoate) and PHA (polyhydroxy alkanoate) that have been claimed by the industry as potentially disruptive. The superior barrier, mechanical and thermal properties of PEF present a suitable competition to PET (Polyethylene terephthalate). The versatility and marine biodegradability of PHAs has attracted interest from several potential adopters. But the high production costs of both pose a serious commercialisation challenge when considering the established production, supply chain and recycling infrastructure for fossil-based plastics. We illustrate in this study how firms are mitigating technical and market uncertainties by strategies such as adding value to other products, utilising existing industrial assets, balancing exploration of more efficient and sustainable production pathways with commercial exploitation, lowering transaction costs by utilising existing knowledge base, by developing formulation capabilities and forward integrating into end consumer products or by entering collaborative alliances. These strategies could inevitably overcome inertia posed by the current market structure for fossil-based plastics.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBiofuels, Bioproducts and Biorefining
Publication statusPublished - 14 Oct 2022


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