The age of cool biobased materials: a new positioning strategy


*Corresponding author
Orineo bvba, Acaciastraat 14, B-3071 Erps-Kwerps, Belgium


Bioplastics just celebrated their 25th jubilee. A rather sad celebration, as current market share does only represent 0,2% of the European thermoplastic and thermosetting market, despite large multinational involvement and consumer support. Own research on the reasons for this limited commercial success concluded on a failing positioning. Most bio-based materials are promoted on their properties, vegetable origin, end-of-life options and benefits for the environment. So far so good, except that suppliers always benchmark against conventional synthetic plastics. And when positioned as such, bio-based materials tend to fall short on price/performance ratio.

A new positioning strategy, based on a balanced communication between rational (addressing objective facts), emotional (addressing aesthetic aspects) and intuitive (addressing personal values) properties offers new opportunities.
This is illustrated by the recent launch of a new
bio-based material for interior decoration.



The first mention of man-made plastic material goes back to 1862 (1, 3). A mouldable cellulose nitrate material, called Parkesine created great interest at the Great International Exhibition in London. This was well before the world’s first synthetic plastic, Bakelite, back in 1907, the start of the ‘plastic era’(2). Only in 1990, when ICI brought Biopol on the market, the ‘Bioplastic Revolution’ started (1).

25 years later, with the accumulated knowledge of a century of organic chemistry and progress in biotechnology and fermentation processes, bioplastics barely represent 0,2% of the European thermoplastic and thermosetting polymer consumption (4, 5) and 0,5% of plastics consumed in bags and packaging. It is not because of a lack of interest from large co ...