Global concerns promoting growth of "Green" chemistry markets

"Green" chemistry -- renewable chemicals derived from bio-based feedstocks using environmentally friendly production technologies -- has gone global. BCC Research estimates in its new report the global chemical industry will grow to over US$1.5 trillion pa when bio-based and renewable products replace existing products and provide new revenue sources to companies and regional economies. Renewable chemicals or bio-based chemicals are obtained from renewable sources such as agricultural feedstock, agricultural waste, organic waste products, biomass, and microorganisms and are used to produce other chemicals. They are used in various applications across different industries such as in food processing, housing, textiles, environment, transportation, hygiene, and pharmaceuticals. Also, the manufacture of surfactants and lubricants, consumer goods, resins, and plastics for environmental purpose use renewable chemicals. The global market for renewable chemicals is expected to grow from US$51.7 bln in 2015 to US$85.6 bln by 2020, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.6% for the period of 2015-2020. Renewable alcohols dominated the market with about 40.7% of total sales in 2014, but will likely decrease to 39.1% market share by 2020. Raw materials for renewable chemicals production, which ranked second at a 40.6% market share in 2014, is expected to fall to 35.5% during the forecast period (2015-2020) due to the uptake of alternative feedstock used in the production process. Bio-based organic acids, ketones and aldehydes accounted for the third-biggest market share in 2014, at 8.1%, including some well-known and used chemicals. Market share for this segment should increase to 13.9% by the end year. Growing consumer awareness towards renewable chemicals and increasing environmental concerns are driving growth in the market. In addition, regulators in the U.S., U.K. and E.U. have formulated rules concerning the manufacture and disposal of petrochemicals, which 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, as well. Energy supply chain issues are an important market driver. Fossil fuel-based resources are finite in stock and face continuing and increased demand. Almost 80% of available raw materials and energy sources are consumed by close to 20% of the developed world's population. China and India, both of which have populations of over 1 billion people, are exhibiting rapid economic growth, which is boosting demand for energy and chemicals production. "But high processing costs and complex manufacturing processes may hinder future renewable chemicals growth. Some renewable alternatives to existing petrochemicals have been priced extremely high compared with their synthetic counterparts," says BCC Research analyst Nikos Thomopoulos. "Lower purchasing power along with lack of consumer awareness for these chemicals, particularly in emerging economies of Asia-Pacific and Africa, may also control renewable chemicals penetration in these regions in the near future."
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