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Bio-polyolefin Market Set to Grow as Fast as Sugar Cane

Updated: May 9, 2022

· Market leader Braskem is being joined by a multitude of new sources as suppliers, brand-owners and nations pursuing sustainability targets.

· Braskem also plans to license bio-ethylene process technology in a partnership with Lummus, further accelerating roll-out of bio-polyethylene

· Bio-HDPE and bio-LDPE currently dominate the market, with bi0-EVA, bio-LLDPE and bi-PP emerging options.

· Japan is becoming a hotbed of development amid national carbon neutrality drive.

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.

“Bio-based polyolefins are emerging as key enablers for plastic suppliers and brand-owners alike to reach their sustainability goals,” notes MLTA CEO Stephen Moore. Regulatory pressure is also evident. Case in point: Japan’s Green Growth Strategy Through Achieving Carbon Neutrality in 2050 targets 2 million tonnes of biomass plastics in 2030. “Leading Japanese polyolefin suppliers are already gearing up to meet these targets,” says Moore. For example, “Prime 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.”

Source: MLT Analytics

While 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. “A 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,” says Moore.

MLTA’s latest Market-Oriented Strategic Trade Analysis & Intelligence (MOST A&I) Polyethylene Report covering 2021 and 2022 year-to-date exports of polyethylene from Brazil is now available with a comprehensive analysis of bio-polyethylenes at the grade level included. Similar MOST A&I reports are available for Vietnam, India, the U.S., and Central & South America. MLTA uses proprietary machine learning technology and programming to analyze trade patterns, thereby enhancing data accuracy and accelerating data delivery time.


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