High feedstock prices and growing environmental concerns have driven the industry’s focus towards the development of its bio-based alternative through sources. IARC classifies ethylene as a class III carcinogen. Stringent regulations by agencies such as REACH, FDA and EPA regarding the ethylene biodegradability has resulted increased R&D focus on bio-based ethylene market commercialization. Ethylene is primarily polymerized to produce polyethylene which is used in a variety of applications such as packaging, detergents, additives, plasticizers and lubricants. Industrially ethylene is produced through steam cracking in petrochemical processes.
North America bio-based ethylene demand is expected to exhibit significant growth on account of high degree of technology evolution and supportive political scenario. Asia Pacific is also a promising market for bio-based ethylene due to the presence of large scale domestic ethylene manufacturers who are shifting their focus towards bio-based ethylene. Growing application market demand coupled with high production capacities in China is expected to fuel the market growth in Asia Pacific.
The global bio-based ethylene market has huge potential for growth owing to its prevalence as a substitute for conventional ethylene in packaging, medical devices and CASE applications. However, the market is still in nascent stages with companies involved in development of sustainable and industrial level production processes in order to commercially produce bio-based ethylene. In 2014, Total, IFPEN and Axen launched a joint proprietary technology called Atol. The companies are vying for commercial operations through this technology. Similarly many other companies such as Alberta, The Dow Chemical Co., Suiker Unie and Cargill are involved in the development of production process for bio-based ethylene. Many ethylene manufacturers are gradually shifting their capabilities towards bio-based ethylene production in order to capture market space in its early stages. High investment costs involved in the establishment of these novel technologies might pose challenges to new market entrants. However, these challenges are expected to lose impact over the future as the market matures and advancement in production technologies take place.
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