Hürth, Germany - A new report on the global biopolymers market gives a downcast view of the prospects for EPDM rubber – the main synthetic rubber produced using plant-derived feedstock.
Speciality chemicals company Lanxess is currently producing bio-based EPDM in Brazil, noted the report from Hürth-based Nova Institute GmbH. The rubber, it said, can be made out of bio-based ethylene and can be 50-70 percent bio-based.
However, it its assessment of the prospects for bio-EPDM, the report concluded that “the market is small and is not expected to grow in the coming years.”
On a more positive note, the market for bio-based polyurethanes (PUR), which can be 10-100 percent bio-based using feedstocks including natural oil polyols and bio-based succinic acid.
Growth in demand for bio-based PUs, which can include TPUs (thermoplastic polyurethane elastomers), is set to outstrip the already fast-growing market for conventional polyurethanes.
For the bio-based polymers sector overall the report predicts that production capacity will triple from 5.1 million tonnes in 2013 to 17 million tonnes in 2020 – representing a 2-percent share of polymer production in 2013 and 4 percent in 2020
Turnover was about €10 billion worldwide in 2013 within the overall sector, which is dominated by bioplastics such as PET and PLA. The lion’s share of capital investment is expected to take place in Asia.