Bioplastics Help Grow Market for Soybean Oil

Staff from Minnesota Soybean joined Agricultural Utilization Research Institute (AURI) and other industry leaders Wednesday to discuss the state of the bioplastics industry at a forum on biobased and conventional plastics held Tuesday, Oct. 28, in Maple Grove.

Minnesota Soybean Senior Field Director and Staff Lead for the New Uses Action Team Mike Youngerberg attended the forum.

“The bioplastics industry is a small but rapidly growing section of the overall plastics industry,” Youngerberg said. “Growth estimates for bioplastics from various market studies range from 19 percent to 30 percent per year.”

The Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council (MSR&PC) along with the Minnesota Corn Research & Promotion Council (MCR&PC) funded AURI’s study on the bioplastics industry to learn what potential opportunities for ag-based bioplastics exist for manufacturing companies in Minnesota.

The potential market for biobased materials represents significant new markets for soybean-based oils and resins, Youngerberg said. Soybean based materials can be used to produce adhesives, polyols (soybased poly urethane) and epoxy based products.

The United Soybean Board (USB) estimates the annual North American product demand for polyols represents 3.4 billion pounds, with a conservative estimate of the potential for soyoil-based polyols of about 600 to 800 million pounds. The U.S. currently produces approximately 21 billion pounds of soyoil.

“The market for biobased materials has great growth potential as consumers continue to look for more eco-friendly products,” Youngerberg said.
AURI will now take the feedback from industry leaders and use it to begin interacting with companies that are looking for biobased alternatives for their consumer products.