29. Feb 2020
UK-based chemical industry consultancy Tecnon OrbiChem and the nova-Institute release their latest “Commercialisation updates on bio-based building blocks”.
Since the last report in 2017 the bio-based building block market has shown considerable changes. Ranging from the exit of key players, the restructuring of several production capacities worldwide, and a shrinking pool of new start-up companies but also, burgeoning discovery and even the increasing production of new building blocks.
35 companies have undergone restructuring in this industry since 2017. Continued low crude oil prices remain one of the biggest factors hindering further commercialisation and production expansion of several drop-in bio-based commodity chemicals, especially those targeting ethylene and propylene-based derivatives. Overpromised production timelines, and hyped projected demand and capacity goals have also hurt investor confidence in this space, while some of the attention of consumer products companies as well as packaged food and beverage companies has been diverted away from using plant-based polymers and toward recycled polymer materials.
On the other hand, the exciting trend in toward the development of various chemical recycling technologies can lead to alternative, more sustainable circular sources of virgin monomers such as aromatics, glycols, ethylene and propylene from waste petro-based plastics and is added as a new topic in the report. These chemical recycling technologies can also be used for various bio-based polymers, even polylactic acid. Additionally, the report includes the potential comeback of bio-based acrylic acid commercialisation and the introduction of renewable naphtha, also driven by the growing use of the mass balance approach. Mass balance is an important system approach which supports the use of renewable or recycled content in thermochemical crackers and major integrated chemical complexes, by enabling the virtual allocation of the attributes (bio-based or recycled) and the benefits (such as circular or climate protecting) to a specific output.
A crucial factor for the bio-based industry is the issue of climate change which continues to drive branded companies to consider using bio-based materials, which usually have lower carbon emissions in terms of feedstock use (renewable carbon vs. fossil carbon) and manufacturing compared to fossil-based materials.
In total, the outstanding report covers 20 building blocks and describes the activities of over 100 companies comprehensively. The rise and fall of the markets for several established bio-based building blocks as well as the commercialisation and development of novel monomers are discussed in depth in this report, including various technology processes, feedstock usage, supply/demand, trade history and pricing in order to give a full picture of the state of these markets and an analysis of their viability and long-term sustainability.
The market and trend report was written by Doris de Guzman from Tecnon OrbiChem, a member of the biopolymer expert group headed by nova-Institute. The report “Commercialisation updates on bio-based building blocks” is now available for €1,750 at www.bio-based.eu/reports – in addition to further market studies on different topics of bio- and CO2-based economics. A short version of the report is available free of charge.