International Update: The 10 green chemicals that could change UK industry

Simon McQueen-Mason, Network Director of The Lignocellulosic Biorefinery Network (LBNet), believes a bio-based green chemical revolution could transform UK industry.

Many of the materials that go into engineered products and processes – from composites in cars and planes, to pharmaceuticals and industrial solvents – are made from chemicals derived from oil and gas.

As companies look for more sustainable supply chains a change is underway which will see many of these widely used chemicals replaced by similar chemicals derived from plants.

For those using these materials – as well as policymakers – this is an important trend, which they need to be aware of and factor into long-term planning.

Rising oil prices, changing customer demands and new regulations are all likely to push traditional chemicals and materials up in price, whilst making bio-based chemicals more viable.

But even before they reach price parity, there are often other advantages to these chemicals: sustainable production can offer a marketing benefit, and many bio-based alternatives have superior functionality or useful properties, such as biodegradability or reduced toxicity.

Furthermore, bio-based chemicals represent an important area of innovation, which – with the right support from business and government – could become a major industry and employer in the UK.

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