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The EU bio-based industry: Results from a survey

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Abstract

Obtaining regular analysis and data is fundamental for policy makers and stakeholders to monitor the development of an economic sector and make the necessary decisions to maximise the benefits it generates, be they of economic, social or environmental nature. The industrial use of biomass feedstock has the potential to contribute to Europe's industrial and economic growth while significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions, other environmental burdens, and resource dependency, through the displacement of fossil-based products with bio-based alternatives. To this end, this report contributes to quantifying and benchmarking relevant sectors in the so-called European Union Bioeconomy, the bio-based industries. It looks both at the past and future of the sector by focusing on a list of relevant bio-based products (about 70 chemicals and materials) and measuring the total population producing or about to produce these products. The report presents the result of a survey, based on a structured questionnaire launched in March 2015, of 133 companies constituting the total target population. These companies are diversity terms of size and time in the market. Some companies' operations are entirely bio-based and for some others bio-based products represent a relatively small fraction of their operations. They produce and market commodity and speciality chemicals and material goods to a wide range of sectors. Fifty companies completed the questionnaire and the bio-based products they are involved with are mostly organic acids, polymers (obtained from bio-based monomers) and surfactants. The respondents operate about 100 manufacturing plants for bio-based products mainly located in the established European chemical industry clusters. They also operate production plants in third countries, principally in North America and Asia (China, Malaysia and Singapore). The respondents total bio-based product turnovers account for €6.8 billion globally (24 companies answered) and €1.4 billion in the EU (23 companies answered). Therefore, these companies produce and sell globally, testimony of the global nature of the sector. The survey identified 20 companies using animal fats and vegetable oils, 19 companies using sugar or starch crops, and 11 companies using natural fibres. All respondents are positive about the outlook for growth in the industry. The response also indicates a rise in company activity since 2011, and there appear to be shifts in products being developed and produced, probably as a result of market testing, and technical development.

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  • Lucy Nattrass & Clifford Biggs & Ausilio Bauen & Claudia Parisi & Emilio Rodriguez-Cerezo & Manuel GOMEZ BARBERO, 2016. "The EU bio-based industry: Results from a survey," JRC Working Papers JRC100357, Joint Research Centre (Seville site).
  • Handle: RePEc:ipt:iptwpa:jrc100357
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    File URL: http://publications.jrc.ec.europa.eu/repository/handle/JRC100357
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    1. repec:gam:jsusta:v:10:y:2018:i:6:p:1698-:d:148517 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. repec:eee:rensus:v:101:y:2019:i:c:p:590-599 is not listed on IDEAS

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    Keywords

    European Union; Bioeconomy; Bio-based products; Industry survey;

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