Bio-based Polymers’ Production Capacity to Reach 12 Mn Tons in 2020, Reports nova-Institut

SpecialChem - March 8th, 2013
Bio-based drop-in PET and PE/PP polymers and the new polymers PLA and PHA show the fastest rates of market growth. The lion’s share of capital investment is expected to take place in Asia and South America.

Germany’s nova-Institut has published the most comprehensive market study of bio-based polymers ever made. The nova-Institut carried out this study in collaboration with renowned international experts from the field of bio-based polymers. It is the first time that a study has looked at every kind of bio-based polymer produced by 247 companies at 363 locations around the world and it examines in detail 114 companies in 135 locations.

Considerably higher production capacity was found than in previous studies. The 3.5 million tons represent a share of 1.5% of an overall construction polymer production of 235 million tons in 2011. Current producers of bio-based polymers estimate that production capacity will reach nearly 12 million tons by 2020. With an expected total polymer production of about 400 million tons in 2020, the bio-based share should increase from 1.5% in 2011 to 3% in 2020, meaning that bio-based production capacity will grow faster than overall production.

The most dynamic development is foreseen for drop-in biopolymers, which are chemically identical to their petrochemical counterparts but at least partially derived from biomass. This group is spearheaded by partly bio-based PET (Bio-PET) whose production capacity will reach about 5 million tons by the year 2020, using bioethanol from sugar cane. The second in this group are bio-based polyolefins like PE and PP, also based on bioethanol. But “new in the market” bio-based polymers PLA and PHA are also expected to at least quadruple the capacity between 2011 and 2020.

Most investment in new bio-based polymer capacities will take place in Asia and South America because of better access to feedstock and a favorable political framework. Europe’s share will decrease from 20% to 14% and North America’s share from 15% to 13%, whereas Asia’s will increase from 52% to 55% and South America’s from 13% to 18%. So world market shares are not expected to shift dramatically, which means that every region of the world will experience development in the field of bio-based polymer production.

About nova-Institut GmbH

The nova-Institut was founded as a private and independent institute in 1994. It is located in the Chemiepark Knapsack in Huerth, which lies at the heart of the chemical industry around Cologne (Germany). For over 15 years now, the nova-Institut has been globally active in feedstock supply, techno-economic evaluation, market research, dissemination, project management and policy for a sustainable bio-based economy.
Source: nova-Institut GmbH
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