08.03.2013 - Bio-based polymers production capacity will triple to nearly 12 million tonnes in 2020, says study.
According to the largest ever market study published, bio-based drop-in PET and PE/PP polymers and the new polymers PLA and PHA show the fastest rates of market growth. However, Europe will stand only at the sidelines as the lion’s share of capital investment is expected to take place in Asia and South America, says the study conducted by the Cologne-based Nova Institute.
The global survey of 247 companies covered every kind of bio-based polymer and examines 114 companies in detail. Considerably higher production capacity was found compared to earlier studies. The Nova experts identified that there was a production capacity of 3.5 million tonnes in 2011 – a share of 1.5% of overall construction polymer production. According to estimates of the surveyed manufacturers, production capacity will raise to nearly 12 million tonnes by 2020. With an expected total polymer production of about 400 million tonnes 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 anticipated in drop-in biopolymers, which are chemically identical to their petrochemical counterparts but are at least partially derived from biomass. This group is spearheaded by partly bio-based PET (Bio-PET) of which production capacity will reach about 5 million tonnes 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 favourable 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.
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