Market study and Trend Reports on “Bio-based Building Blocks and Polymers in the World – Capacities, Production and Applications: Status Quo and Trends Towards 2020″

The short version of the full market study is now available!

Two years after the first market study was released, Germany’s nova-Institute is publishing a complete update of the most comprehensive market study of bio-based polymers ever made in June 2015. This update will expand the market study’s range, including bio-based building blocks as precursor of bio-based polymers. The nova-Institute carried out this study in collaboration with renowned international experts from the field of bio-based building blocks and polymers. The study investigates every kind of bio-based polymer and, for the first time, several major building blocks produced around the world.

The short version of the full market study is now available! You can pre-order the market study and download the short version at

In 2014, for the first time, the association “European Bioplastics” used nova-Institute’s market study as its main data source for their recently published market data. For the European Bioplastics’s selection of bio-based polymers, which differs from the nova-Institute’s selection, bio-based polymers production capacities are projected to grow by more than 400 % by 2018.

For the nova-Institute’s selection, production capacity of bio-based polymers will triple from 5.2 million tonnes in 2013 to nearly 17 million tonnes by 2020. The production capacity for bio-based polymers boasts very impressive development and annual growth rates, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of almost 20% in comparison to petrochemical polymers, which have a CAGR between 3-4%. The 5.2 million tonnes represent a 2% share of overall structural polymer production at 256 million tonnes in 2013. The bio-based share of overall polymer production has been growing over the years: it was 1.5% in 2011 (3.5 million tonnes bio-based for a global production of 235 million tonnes). With an expected total polymer production of about 400 million tonnes in 2020, the bio-based share should increase from 2% in 2013 to more than 4% in 2020, meaning that bio-based production capacity will grow faster than overall production capacity.

The most dynamic development is foreseen for drop-in bio-based polymers, but this is closely followed by new bio-based polymers. Drop-in bio-based polymers are chemically identical to their petrochemical counterparts but at least partially derived from biomass. This group is spearheaded by partly bio-based polyethylene terephthalate (PET), whose production capacity was around 600,000 tonnes in 2013 and is projected to reach about 7 million tonnes by 2020, using bio-ethanol from sugar cane. Bio-based PET production is expanding at high rates worldwide, largely due to the Plant PET Technology Collaborative (PTC) initiative launched by The Coca-Cola Company. The second most dynamic development is foreseen for polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA), which, contrary to bio-based PET, are new polymers, but still have similar growth rates to those of bio-based PET. Polylactic acid (PLA) and bio-based polyurethanes (PUR) are showing impressive growth as well: their production capacities are expected to almost quadruple between 2013 and 2020.

Most investment in new bio-based polymer capacities will take place in Asia because of better access to feedstock and a favourable political framework. Europe’s share is projected to decrease from 17.3% to 7.6% and North America’s share is set to fall from 18.4% to 4.3%, whereas Asia’s is predicted to increase from 51.4% to 75.8%. South America is likely to remain constant with a share at around 12%. In other words, world market shares are expected to shift dramatically. Asia is predicted to experience most of the developments in the field of bio-based building block and polymer production, while Europe and North America are slated to lose more than a half and just over three quarters of their shares, respectively.

For the first time, the production capacities of some major building blocks have been reported in the market study. The total production capacity of the bio-based building blocks reviewed in this study was 2 million tonnes in 2013 and is expected to reach 4.4 million tonnes in 2020, which means a CAGR of almost 12%. Contrary to bio-based polymers, most of which are still partly bio-based, bio-based building blocks are 100% bio-based. This explains why the total production capacity of bio-based building blocks is considerably lower than the total production capacity of bio-based polymers. On the other hand, we are currently witnessing the development of integrated biorefinery facilities that produce both bio-based building blocks and polymers. This makes tracking production capacities a little more complicated. The most dynamic developments are spearheaded by succinic acid and 1,4-butanediol (1,4-BDO), with monoethylene glycol (MEG) as a distant runner-up.

The forecast of a total production capacity of 17 million tonnes of bio-based polymers and 4.4 millions of bio-based building blocks by 2020 suggests that the market is definitely well established and growing.


nova-Institut GmbH, 2015-04-08.


Coca-Cola Co.
European Bioplastics e.V.
nova-Institut GmbH