Bioplastic packaging remains in the early development stage with no dominant companies, a new analysis finds.

About 40% of inventions are held by organizations with just a single invention, a sign of how little development has occurred so far, according to a report by Clarivate Analytics, a firm that provides insights to accelerate innovation. Less than a tenth of organizations have 10 or more inventions in the field.

The “relatively small and nascent market” lags public sentiment for sustainable plastics alternatives, Clarivate says in “From the Plastics Present to a Sustainable Future.”

Patent volume in bioplastics packaging for food, beverage and cosmetics sectors increased about 60% to 70% from 2012 to 2017, simply keeping pace with overall patent volumes that similarly grew 70% over the same period, according to the Derwent World Patents Index. Derwent is one of Clarivate’s companies that help build brands that innovate.

Bioplastics, around for more than 100 years, “developed in the shadow of the plastics industry,” Clarivate notes. Production today is just a fraction compared to the more than 359 million tons of plastic produced annually.

Biodegradable or recyclable plastics are not yet commercially attractive options, Clarivate says. Until the economics of production improve, adoption will continue to be slow.

“Bioplastics may not be the green savior they are touted to be by some, but as the world seeks credible alternatives to plastics, we can expect more innovation and the continued growth of bioplastics,” the report says. 

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