Bioplastics: 500% growth = 500% more green chemicals
As a platform chemical and building block for polymers, furfural’s long-term market growth will also be determined by the growth of the bioplastic market (see Bioplastics are used in an increasing number of markets). Bioplastics are used in an increasing number of markets – from packaging, catering products, consumer electronics, automotive, agriculture/horticulture and toys to textiles and a number of other segments.1 The US biomass program identified furfural as one of the Top 30 value added chemicals2. It is a chemical that is entirely made from the non-food part of agricultural crops (e.g. corncobs, olive residues, oat hulls, rice husks, sunflower husks) or from by-products of biomass that is used in the pulp & paper or sugar industries.
Currently, the major industrial users of furfural are found in the following industries: steel/foundry, pharmaceutical, agricultural chemicals, plastics and wood treatment industries. Quite a few of the companies listed in en.european-bioplastics.org/market’s “ANNEX List of bioplastics companies” make already use of furfural as a building block in their bioplastics chemistry or have expressed an interest in using furfural, provided there is supply and price security.
2 Top Value Added Chemicals from Biomass (www.nrel.gov/docs/fy04osti/35523.pdf)