The chemical industry is one of the most important sectors in the global economy, accounting for over 5% of global GDP and contributing to a wide range of products, from plastics to pharmaceuticals to fertilizers. However, the industry also contributes to environmental pollution, accounting for around 7% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
In recent years, there has been a growing shift towards sustainable chemical manufacturing, as companies seek to reduce their environmental impact and meet the increasing demand for sustainable products from consumers and businesses.
The global market for sustainable chemicals is expected to grow from US$ 10.5 billion in 2022 to US$ 22.6 billion by 2028, at a CAGR of 16.7%. The growth of this market is being driven by a number of factors, including increasing demand for sustainable products from consumers and businesses, government regulations, technological advancements, etc.
The Asia Pacific region is expected to be the fastest-growing market for sustainable chemicals in the coming years. This is due to a number of factors, including the growing population, rapid economic growth, and increasing demand for sustainable products.
Here are five emerging trends in sustainable chemical manufacturing:
1. Green chemistry and process intensification
Green chemistry is a philosophy and approach to chemical design, development, and manufacturing that aims to minimize or eliminate the use and generation of hazardous substances. Process intensification is a related approach that seeks to improve the efficiency and productivity of chemical processes while reducing their environmental impact.
A number of green chemistry and process intensification technologies are emerging, such as:
- Catalysis: Catalysts are substances that speed up chemical reactions without being consumed. The development of more efficient and selective catalysts can help to reduce the amount of energy and resources required for chemical production.
- Biocatalysis: Biocatalysis uses enzymes, which are proteins that catalyze chemical reactions, to produce chemicals. Enzymes are highly efficient and selective, and they can operate under mild conditions, which can reduce energy consumption and waste production.
- Flow chemistry: Flow chemistry is a technique in which reactants are pumped through a continuous flow reactor, where they react and the product is collected. Flow chemistry can be more efficient and safer than traditional batch chemistry, and it can be used to produce smaller quantities of chemicals on demand.
2. Renewable feedstocks and bio-based chemicals
Traditionally, chemicals have been derived from fossil fuels, such as petroleum and natural gas. However, fossil fuels are non-renewable resources and their combustion contributes to climate change.
There is a growing trend towards using renewable feedstocks, such as plant biomass, algae, and agricultural waste, to produce chemicals. Bio-based chemicals are often more sustainable than traditional petrochemicals because they are made from renewable resources and they can be biodegradable.
Some examples of bio-based chemicals include:
- Bioethanol: Bioethanol is a renewable fuel that can be used to produce ethanol, which is used in a variety of products, including gasoline, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals.
- Biodiesel: Biodiesel is a renewable fuel that can be used to produce biodiesel, which is used in diesel engines.
- Bioplastics: Bioplastics are plastics that are made from renewable resources, such as plant starch or sugarcane.
3. Circular economy and resource efficiency
The circular economy is a model that aims to reduce waste and pollution by keeping resources in use for as long as possible. In the chemical industry, the circular economy can be implemented by:
- Designing chemicals for recyclability: Chemicals can be designed so that they can be easily recycled or reused at the end of their life cycle.
- Using recycled materials: Recycled materials can be used as feedstocks for chemical production, which can help to reduce the use of virgin resources.
- Developing waste-to-product technologies: Waste-to-product technologies can be used to convert waste materials into valuable chemicals.
4. Energy management and carbon neutrality
The chemical industry is a major consumer of energy. Energy efficiency measures and using renewable energy sources can help reduce the industry's environmental impact.
Some companies in the chemical industry are also setting ambitious targets to achieve carbon neutrality. Carbon neutrality means that a company removes as much carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as it emits.
5. Digitalization and data analytics
Digital technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, are being used to improve the efficiency and sustainability of chemical manufacturing.
For example, AI can be used to optimize chemical processes, reduce waste production, and predict potential problems. Data analytics can be used to track and measure the environmental performance of chemical plants and identify areas where improvements can be made.
Amidst challenges, sustainability plays a pivotal role
The chemical industry is facing a number of challenges, including climate change, resource scarcity, and increasing demand for sustainable products. However, emerging trends in sustainable chemical manufacturing are offering new opportunities to address these challenges and create a more sustainable future for the industry.
To get more insights on the Global Sustainable Chemical Manufacturing Market, take advantage of the market research report by RationalStat that can shape your decision into a well-informed decision. Request a free sample report.
Co-founder and Director at RationalStat
Ujjwal is a thought leader and recognized expert in the market research and consulting field. He is the co-founder at RationalStat, a leading global market research & procurement intelligence firm with 10+ years of industry expertise.