Emerging Bio-base economies in Asia : challenges and opportunities by Dr. Wolfgang Baltus

Mitrphol, the main sugar supplier in Thailand is one of the driving forces of the bio-economy locally and in Asia at large. Thailand is at the forefront of this regional development. 

10th International Conference on Bio-bases Marerials – Köln, Germany- May 10-11, 2017

Thailand bio-hubs approach (Rayong and a planned 2nd one 400 km further North) is paying off, creating efficient eco-systems. Malaysia follows through with Kertih bio-park on the sea shore to work with local biomass and imported sugar.

Biomass is abundant and cheap in Asia. 600 million tons per year of sugar are produced. 200 million tons of corn, 100 million tons of cassava and 60 million tons of palm oil. Residues from agriculture represent 300 million tons per annum. Agriculture still represents 10 to 20% of GDP, depending on the country.

Companies are focusing more on bio-medicals than biopolymers which have difficulties to find their market.

Energy security is one of the key challenges for the ASEAN community. Bioenergy is therefore high on the priority list and supported by national governments.

2.4 million tons of biopolymers have been produced in 2016 globally, of which 43% in Asia. Projection 2021 is a market share of 53% of a global production of 3.6 million tons, equivalent to 1.9 million tons for Asia. And for some molecules like MEG, the region enjoys a 100% market share.

Innovation potential in Asia reported to be still limited, but in focus of all governments in the region.

Asia also contributes up to 80% of plastic littering into the sea. Big challenge to address!

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