Bioplastics Innovations Lagging Behind Public Sentiment for Sustainable Plastics Alternatives, Says New Clarivate Report

23 April 2020

Clarivate Analytics Plc, a global leader in providing trusted insights and analytics to accelerate the pace of innovation, has today released a new report unveiling the bioplastics1 innovation landscape. Some of the key findings in the report include how bioplastics packaging is at an early developmental stage with no dominant company or entity. 40%2 of all inventions are held by organizational applicants with just a single invention and less than a tenth hold 10 or more inventions.

With growing consumer, governmental and organizational awareness of the need to radically change our approach to plastic usage and disposal, bioplastic has emerged as one of the potential solutions to a more sustainable future. Biodegradable and compostable packaging is a key issue for consumers and regulators. A recent survey3 revealed almost three quarters of global consumers want to see single-use plastic banned, and 63% are prepared to change where they shop if it meant using less packaging.  From a patented invention perspective however, it is not fast growing. Patent volume increases in bioplastics packaging for food, beverage and cosmetics sectors of between 58% and 70% from 2012 to 2017 simply keep pace with overall patent volumes that similarly grew 70% over the same period, according to the Derwent World Patents Index™ (DWPI).

From the Plastics Present to a Sustainable Future also revealed:

  • Only 7% of bioplastics packaging in food, beverage and cosmetics patent applicants hold 10 or more inventions.
  • The innovation profile is spread across the supply chain of packaging, from academia through to fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) firms performing and patenting research.
  • Durability of traditional petrochemical-based plastics means innovation in bioplastics packaging is focused on the material's mechanical properties. 488 inventions cite mechanical strength as the motivation for the invention compared to 331 for biodegradable properties4.

There is no shortage of exciting bioplastics innovations, including bioplastic containers made from rice starch with a high degree of thermal resistance and mechanical strength and edible bioplastic food wrappers made from corn and shellfish byproducts5. However, bioplastics is still a relatively small and nascent market; its global production of 2.11 million tons last year is just a fraction of the more than 359 million tons of plastic produced annually today6. From a patent perspective, bioplastics packaging only constituted 0.02% of all patent output according to DWPI, compared with 5% for pharmaceuticals (not including bio-technology) in 2017. Factors such as bioplastics' lack of mechanical strength compared to its petrochemical-based counterpart and the economics of production are holding back its growth and development.

From a commercial and trademarks perspective, biodegradable or recyclable plastics are not yet commercially attractive options. They currently comprise just 8% of total plastics trademark applications filed at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO)7. Until the economics of production for bioplastics improve, the adoption of bioplastics will continue to be slow.

"Our report reveals plastic is, and will continue to be, a part of our daily life. However, investments in the further development of bioplastics, re-think of traditional plastics design or responsible usage and disposal, will help reduce dependence on traditional plastics" said Jeff Roy, President, IP Group at Clarivate. "At Clarivate, we operate at the heart of the innovation lifecycle and deliver vital information and insights to organizations that are seeking alternative solutions to the world's most complex problems, such as plastic waste. With our industry leading solutions, organizations can continue to bring life-changing and environment-saving plastics innovations to market, faster."

About Clarivate                                                   
Clarivate™ is a global leader in providing trusted insights and analytics to accelerate the pace of innovation. We have built some of the most trusted brands across the innovation lifecycle, including the Web of Science™, Cortellis™, Derwent™, CompuMark™, MarkMonitor™ and Techstreet™. Today, Clarivate™ is on a bold entrepreneurial mission to help customers reduce the time from new ideas to life-changing innovations. For more information, please visit

About Derwent
Derwent™, a Clarivate company, powers the innovation lifecycle from idea to commercialization—with trusted patent data, applications and services including Derwent Innovation™, Derwent World Patents Index™, Derwent Patents Citation Index™ and Derwent Data Analyzer™. We build solutions for inventors, patent attorneys and licensing specialists at start-ups and the largest global innovators, legal professionals at the leading IP practices, and patent examiners at more than 40 patent offices. Our solutions are used to monitor technology trends and competitive landscapes, inform FTO opinions, prosecute patents, monetize and license assets and support litigation activities. For more information, please visit

About CompuMark
CompuMark is the industry leader in trademark research and protection solutions. We enable trademark and brand professionals worldwide to launch, expand and protect strong brands through the highest quality global content; expert analysis; superior trademark screening, search, and watch tools; and best-in-class service. Key products include: SAEGIS Trademark Screening Tools; TM go365 Self-service Research Solution; Trademark Full Search; Trademark Watching; Copyright Searches; and Custom Solutions. For more information, please visit

About MarkMonitor
MarkMonitor™, a Clarivate company, is the leading enterprise-level domain registrar trusted by organizations globally to establish an online presence and protect domain portfolios. Through an extensive suite of products and consultative services, MarkMonitor enables technology, legal and marketing teams to securely register and strategically manage domain portfolios critical to business goals and reputations. Powered by domain industry data, insights and expertise, MarkMonitor helps customers maximize portfolios while mitigating risk of consumer fraud or confusion from third party domain registrations. For more information, please visit

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1 Bioplastics, defined as plant-derived, biodegradable or compostable plastics
2 Bioplastics packaging innovation in food, beverage and cosmetics sectors. Source: Derwent World Patents Index
3 Ipsos, "A Throwaway World: the challenge of plastic packaging and waste",, Nov 19
4 Analysis of approaches and benefits mentioned in the DWPI Advantage field for food, beverage and cosmetics bioplastic packaging, mapped as the motivation or benefit behind the invention
5 Interesting Engineering, "13 bioplastic innovations that might save the world",, Jun 18
6 European Bioplastics, "Bioplastics market data",
7 Trademark applications from 2000 to 2019 at the USPTO and EUIPO based on CompuMark's SAEGIS. Source: SAEGIS.