Bio-polyolefin Market Set to Grow as Fast as Sugar Cane
Sugar cane can grow to a height of 10 feet in 12 months. Independent research by MLT Analytics (MLTA) indicates that usage of polyethylene and polypropylene derived from renewable resources such as sugar cane, non-edible plants and biogenic fats and oils has the potential to grow equally fast.
Bio-polyethylene market leader Braskem exported almost 150,000 tonnes of bio-PE in 2021, headed by bio-HDPE and bio-LDPDE grades, according to MLTA analysis. Further, with mass balance-based biopolymer production accelerating in Europe and Japan, the global bio-PE market will soon surpass 200,000 tonnes annually. Braskem’s recent decision to license bio-ethylene production technology in a partnership with Lummus Technology should further accelerate market growth. â€śBio-based polyolefins are emerging as key enablers for plastic suppliers and brand-owners alike to reach their sustainability goals,â€ť notes MLTA CEO Stephen Moore. Regulatory pressure is also evident. Case in point: Japanâ€™s Green Growth Strategy Through Achieving Carbon Neutrality in 2050 targets 2 million tonnes of biomass plastics in 2030. â€śLeading Japanese polyolefin suppliers are already gearing up to meet these targets,â€ť says Moore. For example, â€śPrime Polymer shipped its first bio-PP shipment in March this year using bio-based hydrocarbons from Neste, while parent company Mitsui Chemicals is also developing its own process technology to polymerize PP from bio-isopropanol.â€ťWhile LDPE, particularly for coating of paperboard containers, and HDPE, mainly for packaging and bags, currently dominate the marketspace, bio-LLDPE and bio-EVA are also emerging sustainable options, as is bio-PP. â€śA key differentiator in the market going forward will be whether these offerings are indeed 100% bio-based resins or marketed using a mass balance approach,â€ť says Moore.