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MANUFACTURING | Staff Reporter, Singapore

Global capacity for bio-based chemicals and materials to double

Capacity pegged at 9.2 million tons by 2016 due to blistering usage appetite.

This is from 2011 capacity of 3.8 million tons. Value of 2016 capacity estimated at $19.7 billion, a 140% rise in just half a decade, according to Lux Research.

“Several strong forces – consumer preference, corporate commitment, and government mandates and support – are driving development in this space.” said Kalib Kersh, Lux Research Analyst and lead author of the report titled "Global Bio-based Chemical Capacity Springs to Scale."

“For an industry with the scale of plastics, polymers, and chemicals, no business issue is as big as that of capacity. For bio-based alternatives to compete with petroleum, they have to match billion-dollar businesses producing at megaton levels,” says Kalib.

Lux Research also forecasted growth for current well-performing bio-based materials.

"Bioplastics steal the scene but will slow down. From 2006 to 2011, bioplastics have experienced explosive growth of 1,500% to a current aggregate capacity of 470,000 tons, and a 10.9% share of all bio-based materials. Expansion is expected to moderate, though their capacity will still grow 57% from 2011 to 2016," said Lux Research.

"Cellulose polymers and starch-based plastics dominant. Cellulose polymers and starch-derived materials still rule because they are durable, strong and easily biodegradable: They’ve been widely used in high-performance plastic coatings, buttons and yarns, and even early LEGO bricks. However, their share of total capacity will slide from 45% in 2011 to 21% in 2016," it said further.

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