Cellulose plastics are bioplastics manufactured using cellulose or derivatives of cellulose. Cellulose plastics are manufactured using softwood trees as the basic raw material. Barks of the tree are separated and can be used as an energy source in the production. To segregate cellulose fiber from the tree, the tree is cooked or heated in a digester. Resins and lignins are produced as a byproduct in the digester. The byproducts can be used as a fuel or as a feedstock in the production of other chemical products. The pulp such produced is comprises hemicelluloses and alpha cellulose. Pulp is then treated with bleaching chemicals to eliminate any traces of resins and lignins and to reduce the hemicelluloses content of the pulp. The processed pulp contains water which is removed from the pulp before processing the pulp with high alpha cellulose content. The pulp is then used in the production of cellulose esters used in the production of cellulose plastics.
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Cellulose esters are produced by reaction of the processed pulp with certain acids and anhydrides in varied concentrations and temperatures depending on the end user application. The properties and chemical composition of cellulose esters is dependent on the acids and anhydrides used in the production process. Butyrate, acetate and propionate are among the major types of cellulose esters. Cellulose acetate is the dominant product type for cellulose esters and the trend is anticipated to continue during the forecast period. Major applications for cellulose plastics include thermoplastics, extruded films, eyeglass frames, electronics, sheets, rods, etc. Molding materials is the most dominant application segment for cellulose plastics and the trend is expected to continue for a foreseeable future.
Plastic is produced mainly using non renewable sources such as crude oil and its several derivatives owing to which, the carbon footprint is high during the production of plastics. Moreover, other issues such as biodegradability and other environmental hazards associated with traditional plastics have led to surge in number of regulations to control the use of plastics. The regulations imposed on plastics have led to surge demand for bio based plastics and thus has been driving demand for cellulose plastics. Furthermore, increasing demand for electronics products such as transparent dialers, screen shields, etc. has been among foremost growth drivers for cellulose plastics market. Softwood is the dominant raw material used in the production of cellulose plastics and increasing number of deforestation regulations is a major restraint for the market. Easy availability and low cost of conventional plastics is also among major restraint for cellulose plastics market growth. Moreover, high efficiency and comparative cost benefit of conventional plastics over cellulose plastics has restrained market growth for cellulose plastics. Increasing research and development to produce high efficiency and low cost cellulose plastics is anticipated to offer huge growth opportunity in cellulose ester market.
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North America followed by Europe dominates the global cellulose plastics market. Increasing demand for bio based plastics has been a major factor driving demand for cellulose plastics in North America and Europe. North America is expected to dominate the cellulose plastics market during the forecast period. Some of the major players in the cellulose plastics market include Eastman Chemical Company, Mitsubishi Rayon Company Limited, Celanese Corporation, Solvay, SK Chemicals Co. Ltd. and Daicel Chemical Industries among others.
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