On Feb. 26, 2013, the National Development and Reform Commission adjusted some items of the Guidance Catalogue for Industrial Structure Adjustment (2011 Version). It's surprising that China will lift the ban on the disposable foam tableware from May 1, 2013, which may exert an effect on the market of biodegradable plastics. Generally, the disposable foam tableware refers to the polystyrene (PS) tableware.
In May 1995, the Ministry of Railways banned the use of PS foam tableware in trains and train stations since the wastes seriously damaged the environment and natural landscape along the railway lines. The replacement solution has been found with biodegradable tablewares. In 1999, the former State Economic and Trade Commission regulated that the whole country should ban the use of PS foam tableware by 2000 since it could seriously pollute the environment.
At present, based on the new instruction, the PS foam tableware can return to the market legally after May 1, 2013. According to Mr. Cao, Vice Chairman of the China Plastics Processing Industry Association, the ban on the PS foam tableware will be lifted since it has the advantages of oil and water resistance, heat preservation and low consumption of feedstock and fuel. The pollution brought by the PS foam tableware can be eliminated by strengthening the recovery management and recycling. Besides, Mr. Cao thinks that the recycling technology of disposable PS foam tableware is improving continuously in China.
Tableware is also a downstream consumer of biodegradable plastics, such as starch based material, so the ban removal on cheap PS foam tableware may exert some effects on the biodegradable plastics market, but limited.
A low price is the biggest advantage of PS foam tableware. In fact, in the last 14 years when both production and sales of PS foam tableware were illegal, PS foam tableware was still taking up about 20% of the tableware market owing to its low price. After May 1, 2013 when the use of PS foam tableware becomes legal, the ratio may increase.
Luckily, the influence may be small.
Tableware is not the main application field for most biodegradable resins, such as PLA and PHA. Due to the high price, most of them are used to manufacture package products, and only some starch based material downstream processors may be affected by the new instruction.
Mr. Lan is the R&D Manager of Shandong Ecomann Technology Co., Ltd. (Ecomann), one of the three domestic PHA producers. He thinks that the new instruction will not influence the company, since as an expensive biological material, only a small part of PHA is used to produce tableware while most of it is used to produce packages. Moreover, the PHA tableware is generally not sold in the domestic market but exported to developed countries, so Mr. Lan believes this new instruction will not affect Ecomann's business.
For those starch based tableware producers, the effect may also be limited. Mr. Shi, Sales Manager of Zhejiang Tianhe Environmental Technology Co., Ltd. with a starch based material processing capacity of 30,000t/a, thinks that the target market of biodegradable tableware is different from that of PS foam tableware, and generally, the company's customers are willing to pay more and bear more social and environmental responsibilities.
The news above was soured from CCM’s latest monthly report, Biomaterials China News issued in April.
Table Contents of Biomaterials China News 1304:
China to lift the ban on disposable foam tablewares
China may accelerate the policy formulation for degradable agricultural films
Opportunity for straw-based plastic's development
Tianjin GreenBio signs a distribution agreement with Metabolix
Bio-plus successfully processes PLA foam sheet
Hainan welcomes a new biodegradable plastic program
TÜV Rheinland commissions its biodegradability lab in Shanghai
Shandong Polymer signs a PAM supply contract with Shengli Oilfield
China continues the anti-dumping tax for potato starch from the EU
China's PLA foreign trade suffers from a decrease in Feb. 2013
China's import volume of fresh cassava decreases further in Feb. 2013
Sebacic import and export: the volume increased while the price decreased in 2012
Shengdi Jiahe to construct a PLA program
BASF wins the Marketing Innovation award in China
LG Hausys exhibits its PLA floor
Shandong Shenghao to launch a 300,000t/a natural cellulose program mrd1yanzhongming
Guodian Younglight’s PVA and BDO program to be finished at the end of 2013
Biomaterials China News, with 12 to 14 topics in one issue, published by CCM on 8th every month, will bring you the latest information on the market dynamics, company dynamics, new biomaterials products, new biomaterials technology development, new legislations as well as policies and raw material supply dynamics, which are shaping the significant market intelligence of the industry.
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