The 10 green chemicals driving a disruptive new industry

The UK government should focus on 10 specific bio-based chemicals to boost industrial growth, jobs, trade and investment in the UK, says a new report.

Bio-based chemicals are produced from plants, rather than petroleum. They are set to disrupt the global chemicals industry by replacing toxic or environmentally damaging petro-chemicals in many products and processes.

The UKBioChem10 report identifies the 10 leading bio-based chemicals where the UK has the opportunity to take the global lead. The report was developed by LBNet, sponsored by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), in consultation with leading biotechnology and chemistry experts from business, academia and the public sector. Global trends towards sustainability and reduced emissions are driving demand for greener chemicals, presenting major business opportunities.

The top 10 includes green chemicals that can be used to make biodegradable plastics, superabsorbent sanitary products, nylon, perfumes, skin creams and detergents. These products create billions of pounds of global revenue and are all currently made from petroleum.

The 10 bio-based chemicals were agreed based on commercial viability, UK strengths to exploit, functionality and sustainability.

They are:

  • Lactic acid: Used to make PLA, which can be used for biodegradable plastics
  • 2,5-Furandicarboxylic acid (FDCA): A stronger alternative to PET, which is used to make plastic bottles, food packaging and carpets
  • Levoglucosenone: A safer alternative to toxic solvents used in pharmaceutical manufacturing, flavours and fragrances.

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