New survey by Genomatica and ICIS: renewable chemicals will be in common use in five years

Survey covered topics including overall strategy and actions with regards to sustainable chemicals

Christophe Schilling, CEO of Genomatica during his speech at the Grand Opening of Mater Biotech’s plant in Bottrighe di Adria, Italy

Genomatica published the results of a major survey of sustainability issues in the mainstream chemical industry. The survey was conducted together with ICIS, the world’s largest petrochemical market information provider. The survey, fourth in a series they have conducted since 2009, revealed substantial advances for sustainability and renewable chemicals in general, for chemical producers, users (companies making products from basic and intermediate chemicals) and distributors.

The survey covered topics including overall strategy and actions with regards to sustainable chemicals; current and planned use; commitment levels; customer interest; primary adoption factors; predictions of future adoption and use; and perceptions of industry leaders.

Producers report that 65% of their customers are interested in sustainably-produced chemicals. And 63% report a higher level of interest from their customers than three years ago; only 36% responded this way to a similar question in the 2014 survey. This near-doubling of increasing interest includes a sizable 17% showing much greater interest.

That interest is reflected in producer and user attitudes and plans:

  • 87% of producers believe it’s important to be a leader in sustainable chemicals, with 46% rating it very important;
  • 61% of producers and 47% of users are highly committed to offering or using sustainable chemicals;
  • they are increasingly offering and planning to offer sustainable chemicals, with almost four out of five producers expecting to offer more sustainable chemicals within the next few years;
  • they are adopting a multi-pronged strategy on renewables, with 32% of producers and 22% of users already investing in R&D, and large numbers committed to, using or planning to use renewables.

Additionally, more than half of all producers now believe there is long-term economic advantage in switching some of their feedstocks to renewables (54% in 2017 compared to 43% in 2014); an additional 28% aren’t sure yet. For the first time, ICIS and Genomatica asked respondents their opinions about long-term adoption of renewables, as a type of “Renewables Confidence Index.” A remarkable 71% of mainstream chemical industry respondents believe renewable chemicals will be in common use in five years.

As with previous surveys, ICIS and Genomatica asked respondents to list the companies, unprompted, that they think of as technology leaders for sustainable chemicals and as producers. They asked them to rate several specific companies with regard to sustainability technology. Genomatica was rated #1, with Novozymes and BASF following in total positive responses. Genomatica’s rating, up from third place in 2014, benefits from continued commercialization and innovation results, for both bio-butanediol and bio-butylene glycol, recently recognized with the ICIS Innovation Award.

“This latest survey clearly shows that the mainstream chemical industry is continuing to learn, plan and act with regards to sustainability,” said John Baker, ICIS global editor and organizer of the survey. “We saw notable indicators on numerous topics, reflecting greater understanding of biotech’s potential role.”

“This survey provides hard data to confirm the transition toward greater sustainability in the mainstream chemical industry,” said Christophe Schilling, CEO of Genomatica. “Chemical producers and downstream firms are increasingly seeing that biotech can deliver, with commercial-scale plants and solid economics. We will continue to push out innovations and deliver technologies to make this transition even more advantageous.”


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Il Bioeconomista, 2017-11-22.


Geno (formerly Genomatica, Inc.)


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