The biodegradable superabsorbent materials market is projected to reach USD 190 million by the end of the forecast period (2016 to 2024). Growing environmental consciousness and the need to decrease dependency on traditional sources will drive the industry. Application of high-performance and bio-based absorption polymers in disposable diapers, agriculture applications, and adult incontinence products may add to demand. Moreover, the feminine hygiene segment is expected to come up with exclusive opportunities for these eco-friendly polymers in the near future.
Focus on the optimal utilization of resources because of population growth has forced the polymers industry to adopt biodegradable resources. The growing need for appropriate waste disposal propels the demand for biodegradable superabsorbent materials. Modern day consumption patterns call for a well planned garbage disposal system. Environmental damages coupled with insufficient room for disposal of conventional materials have encouraged the adoption of these eco-friendly & superabsorbent materials.
Worldwide demand may surge due to wider applications. They exhibit excellent absorption, biocompatibility with human skin, and biodegradability. These factors add to the popularity of biodegradable superabsorbent materials. Manufacturers aim at developing newer polymers that can retain and absorb large quantities of liquids.
The worldwide biodegradable superabsorbent materials industry is divided into products, applications, and regions. The product segment includes polysaccharides, polyitaconic acid, polyacrylamide, and polyvinyl alcohol. Polyvinyl alcohol was the leading segment in 2015. It held over 68% of the overall volume shares. Polyvinyl alcohol is odorless, water soluble, and colorless in nature. It is supplied either as beads or as solutions in water.
Being a synthetic polymer, it is utilized in a host of applications, such as glue thickeners, polyvinyl butyral, paper coatings preparation, and textile sizing etc. It gets easily degraded by enzymes and microorganisms. Adult incontinence products and feminine hygiene products are its major applications. Moreover, infant care & personal care segments are the key end-users of these eco-friendly superabsorbent materials. This may contribute significantly to the market for polyvinyl alcohol in the years to come.
Polysaccharide materials could expand robustly during the next eight years. Environmental concerns regarding the degradability of petroleum-derived products including polyacrylamide and polyacrylic acid could fuel the biodegradable superabsorbent materials market. Abundant availability of polysaccharides, such as chitin, starch, cellulose, natural gums (guar, xanthan, and alginates), etc. is another lucrative aspect that may augment demand. Polyacrylamide and polyitaconic acid are anticipated to grow at favorable CAGRs of 9% and 8.2%, respectively. This attributes to the high absorption capacity of both these components.
Based on applications, the market is segmented into agriculture, adult incontinence products, medical, disposable diapers, and female hygiene products. The disposable diapers segment dominated the global biodegradable superabsorbent materials market in 2015. It held over 59% of the overall market shares. Demand in the disposable diapers segment owes to the growing infant populace coupled with surging disposable incomes. With a view to increase their global and local presence, most diaper manufacturers invest hugely in emerging economies. Factors contributing to such a trend are enhanced biocompatibility, improved designs, and better liquid absorption of biodegradable superabsorbent materials.
Female hygiene & adult incontinence products are the main application segments of the global industry. These segments together may reach over USD 60 million by the end of the forecast period. Greater awareness about hygiene is expected to boost the demand for biodegradable superabsorbent materials during the estimated years. Rising ecological concerns among the masses would be a key driver that would augment demand. Regulatory compliance pertaining to industrial & municipal waste management is a potential factor that would further lead to market progress. Agricultural applications would grow considerably at a decent CAGR over the next eight years.
High population densities in urban areas exert pressure on the environment which in turn threatens sustainability & food security. Present-day agriculture thrives on optimum land productivity and judicious utilization of water with minimal damage to the environment & natural resources. Climatic variances, inadequate precipitation, and drought-like conditions have led to the adoption of sustainable farming materials in the agricultural industry. This may augment the demand for biodegradable superabsorbent materials in the near future. The need for improving crop water holding capability & soil permeability and for reducing irrigation frequency may increase the popularity of the product. It also prevents run-off & water erosion and enhances plant performance etc.
Furthermore, the presence of big arid areas and limited supply of water are prominent factors that stimulate the demand for biodegradable superabsorbent materials. Demand from the medical application segment owes to the high water retention & absorbing capacities of these materials. Hydrogel created from collagen aids in the healing process, absorbs exudates, and prevents infection.
Geographically, the global biodegradable superabsorbent materials market is fragmented into Asia Pacific, Europe, North America, the Middle East & Africa (MEA), and Latin America. Europe dominated the industry in 2015 accounting for over 33% of the overall volumes. Stringent regulatory norms concerning the use of synthetic polymers in the production of personal care & medical hygiene products might contribute significantly to the global market over the next few years. This trend may be observed in many countries of this region, particularly the United Kingdom, France, and Germany.
The Asia-Pacific market is projected to grow at a CAGR of over 10% during the forecast period. The personal care & hygiene segment can stimulate the market for superabsorbent biodegradable materials over the next couple of years. Since the last decade, China and India have been witnessing a prominent increase in their infant populations. Such prevailing conditions may spur product demand from 2016 to 2024. Ongoing industry trends suggest that Latin America may also exhibit a similar trend.
Major manufacturers operating in the global biodegradable superabsorbent materials market are Itaconix Corp.; Exotech Bio Solutions Ltd.; Nuoer Chemical Australia Pty Ltd.; TryEco LLC; and Archer Daniels Midland Company. The industry is anticipated to witness a number of business ventures with biotech companies in the forecast period. Product development in the areas of ecological and sterile polymers will be a key supporting aspect for most market players. Companies such as Itaconix Corp. and Exotech Bio Solutions Ltd. manufacture superabsorbent biodegradable polymers for applications, like infant care, agriculture, and personal hygiene.
Research Support Specialist, USA