TOKYO — Chinese material manufacturers plan to dramatically increase their output of biodegradable plastics made from plants in response to China’s ban against disposal plastic bags.
A single company, China BBCA Group, aims to build up its capacity to produce the plastic to a level that far outstrips global demand.
The scale of these plans attests to the size of China’s plastic waste problem. But it also raises concerns among competitors of a Chinese-driven supply glut the likes of which was seen in solar cells and and wind turbines.
“We want to show our answer to white pollution,” said BBCA President Li Rongjie, using the term coined for waste plastics.
A supplier of lactic acids used in food additives, BBCA in August started up a plant capable of producing 50,000 tons of polylactic acid (PLA) polymers a year, later breaking ground on another plant in December. The group plans to reach the capacity to produce 700,000 tons of PLA annually by 2023.
That same year, the global PLA market will grow to 370,000 tons, according to the Fuji Chimera Research Institute in Tokyo, up from less than 200,000 tons in 2019.
PLA, a biodegradable compound derived from corn and other plants, has a wide range of uses including as nonwoven fabric masks, apparel and drinking straws. Nearly 10 other Chinese companies besides BBCA have plans to raise their PLA capacity, a July survey by China’s Huaan Securities shows. (Read more)