Green chemistry from bio-based feedstocks is going global

BCC Research forecasts $1.5 trillion annually as renewable products replace existing products.

WELLESLEY, Mass. — The development and manufacture of renewable chemicals derived from bio-based feedstocks using environmentally friendly production technologies, or green chemistry, has gone global.

A report by BCC Research, a unit of Eli Global LLC in Wellesley, Mass., estimates the global chemical industry will grow to more than $1.5 trillion per year when bio-based and renewable products replace existing products and provide new revenue sources to companies and regional economies.

Bio-based chemicals are obtained from renewable sources such as agricultural feedstock, agricultural waste, organic waste products, biomass, and micro-organisms that are used in food processing, housing, textiles, environment, transportation, hygiene and pharmaceuticals. The manufacture of surfactants and lubricants, consumer goods, resins, and plastics for environmental purpose use renewable chemicals.

The report forecasts the global market will grow from $51.7 billion in 2015 to $85.6 billion by 2020, with a compound annual growth rate of 10.6%.

Renewable alcohols dominated the market with about 40.7% of total sales in 2014, but will likely decrease to 39.1% by 2020. Raw materials for renewable chemicals production, second at a 40.6% market share in 2014, will fall to 35.5% during the forecast period as alternative feedstocks are used in the production process.

Bio-based organic acids, ketones and aldehydes accounted for the third-biggest market share at 8.1%, including some well-known and used chemicals. Market share for this segment should increase to 13.9% by the end year.

The report says growing consumer awareness towards renewable chemicals and increasing environmental concerns are driving growth in the market; and regulators in the US, UK and EU have formulated rules concerning the manufacture and disposal of petrochemicals. These factors have helped to boost renewable chemicals consumption during the past few years as companies seek compliance.

Volatile crude oil prices coupled with high prices of finished petrochemicals are estimated to augment market growth.

The report cites finite energy supplies as an important market driver but analyst Nikos Thomopoulos warns high processing costs and complex manufacturing processes may hinder future renewable chemicals growth.

Click here for a copy of the report.

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