nova-Session: “Bio- and CO₂-based Polymers: Production, Trends 2022-2027 and the latest Policy Developments” (Proceedings, PDF)

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The download of the proceedings contains all six presentations of the nova-Session (March 2023).

Bio-based and CO2-based Solutions – Where are we heading?

The only way for chemicals and plastics to become sustainable, climate-friendly and part of the circular economy is the complete substitution of fossil carbon with renewable carbon from alternative sources: biomass, CO2 and recycling. We see strong investment in all three sectors, with growth rates far exceeding that of fossil polymers – i.e. fossil polymers are being substituted in the market.

The session will focus on developments in bio- and CO2-based polymers and building blocks: Bio-based polymers are estimated to grow at a CAGR of 14 % from 2022 to 2027. Some examples: Bio-based epoxy resin production is on the rise, PTT regained attractiveness after several years of constant capacities and PE and PP made from bio based naphtha are being further established with growing volumes. Increased capacities for PLA are ongoing, after being sold out in 2019. Current and future expansions for bio based polyamides as well as PHAs are on the horizon. And also, bio-based PET is getting back in the game.

Additionally, the use of CO2 as chemical feedstock for building blocks and polymers has been intensively diversified. Several successfully implemented technologies used at commercial level are in place and many more at the laboratory and pilot phase. Besides the long-established use of CO2 for the synthesis of polycarbonates, also polyurethanes are based on it. The most notable biotechnological conversion pathway of a syngas produces ethanol at commercial scale. Additionally, high interest is also observed in CO2-based methanol and in CO2-based hydrocarbons, which can be used for fuel, chemical and polymers applications. A current total production capacity of these CO2-based products of ca. 1.3 Mt/a in 2022 is observed and a strong increase in capacity is expected by 2027.

The EU policy landscape has seen significant updates in the final weeks of 2022 with the proposed Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation and the publication of the Policy Framework on bio-based, biodegradable and compostable plastics. How these updates may affect CO2 and bio-based polymers will be addressed in the session.

Michael Carus, Pia Skoczinski, Pauline Ruiz, Lara Dammer, Achim Raschka (nova-Institute) and Gillian Tweddle (Stripe bv Consulting)
Date of publication
Mar 2023