In the long-term industry will have to find substitutes for fossil fuels as supplies diminish and costs rise: so what is a sustainable resource for synthesis of conventional plastics? At Green Polymer Chemistry 2012 in Cologne, Germany, AMI brought together experts from agriculture, chemical engineering, biotechnology, the polymer industry and sustainability managers from brand owners and the automotive sector to hear all the angles on this topic.
LMC International studies the agricultural including sugar, grains and oilseeds. Worldwide, corn wheat and cassava accounted for 1.7 billion metric tonnes in 2010/11, and sugarcane and sugar beet generated 160 million tonnes (the lead producer is Brazil). On the vegetable oil side, palm predominates at 48 million tonnes (85 percent is grown in Malaysia and Indonesia) and is unique in being harvested from trees each year – the other oils are from seeds.
The agricultural industry is already seeing a ‘battle for acres’ globally. This began in 2002 with the drive to use bioethanol/biofuel, which increased demand for arable land for growing feedstock. By 2010 the area under cultivation had expanded worldwide by 70 million hectares. Besides biofuels, there are other factors such as the rise in per capita income in Asia, which means that consumers are eating more meat thus increasing the demand for animal feed. Bio-based plastics and other fine chemicals are now being produced from agricultural feedstocks and the challenge is to find sources that are sustainable in this global marketplace.
Tags: LMC International studies, agricultural feedstocks, cellulose, sugar, Bio-based PET, pilot plants, industrial enzymes, The Green Polymer Chemistry conference
Source: Labels and Labeling, 2012-05-25.