Conference Notes Events

Plant Based Summit Report, the Increasing Power of the Biobased Chemistry

Some 400 people gathered in Lyon on May 22, 23 and 24 to participate at the Plant Based Summit (PBS) event co-organized by the ACDV, the IAR competitiveness cluster and the InfoPro Digital group in partnership with Axelera.

The Plant Based Summit, for its 5th edition, has now become the biennial event for all actors in the fi eld of biobased chemistry in France and Europe.

This international business congress dedicated to industrial applications using plant based raw materials ended with a very positive result. It highlighted the increasing importance of biobased ingredients, materials and products.

A new stage has been reached with the industrialization of many projects driven by the infl ux of investments in recent years.

“Plant Based Summit has demonstrated the ability of the biobased chemistry to create value by offering innovative solutions across an expanding range of markets. During the event, many different sectors were represented such as cosmetics and personal care, packaging, plastics, paint, construction and building, detergence, textile… The congress also highlighted the challenges of sustainable development and the ability of this chemistry to meet them” François Monnet, President of ACDV.

On the agenda of the 20 conferences, the testimonies of more than 130 speakers provided an in-depth examination of new developments with a view to making greater use of biomass as a raw material in the chemical industry.

With the objective for biobased chemistry to be recognized as a key component of the bioeconomy, which contributes to the fi ght against climate change, following an identical path as the food, energy and building sectors (especially with construction wood), …

Since the sharp drop in oil prices in 2014, biobased chemistry has regained very deep interest with several projects now in the industrialization phase.

These include Metabolic Explorer and Afyren, which are in the process of building their fi rst plant on the Carling platform in Moselle. Other French SMEs – Greentech, Algaia, Ecoat or Salveco – came to present their innovations and to demonstrate their good fi nancial health.

Moreover, the major chemical manufacturers were also in the limelight, with the notable presence of Arkema, BASF, Solvay, Total, DSM, Air Liquide via Seppic, Croda…

Besides, the ACDV has made the calculations. The biobased chemicals sector in France is estimated to represent a turnover of €10 billion, growing by 6% per year, employing some 100,000 people.

The association has also highlighted an accurate mapping of nearly 200 factories and R&D laboratories.

Located in France, these establishments contribute to the reindustrialization and thus to the economic and social revitalization of the territories.

However, the revolution announced a few years ago has not taken place, noted Luc Benoit-Cattin, the new president of France-Chimie.

Nevertheless, opportunities are emerging for plant chemistry due to increased consumer demand for more sustainable products, more stringent regulations inspired by these new aspirations.

Since the 2014 crisis, we have learned that biobased chemistry must be competitive to be sustainable, which has led many players to reposition themselves.

Roquette has become more involved in vegetable proteins. Deinove has invested in cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.

Arbiom (formerly Biomethodes) has the idea of making wood edible… But beyond this economic challenge, the great challenge for plant chemistry in the future will be to provide indisputable proof of its contribution to sustainable development, while extensive palm oil or sugar cane farms pose a threat of deforestation and biodiversity loss in certain areas of the globe.

Paul-Joël Derian, Vice-President of Innovation and Sustainable Development of the April agro-industrial group, also advocated short circuits and a long-awaited rapprochement with chemists to introduce them to the variability of plant matter to benefi t in return, from their expertise in application markets.

Finally, it should be mentioned that the circular economy has been widely included in the debates, as François Monnet, President of the ACDV, noted. “Let’s stop asking which of the circular economy or biosource is the most important subject,” explained the former European Commissioner Janez Potočnik at the opening.

“They play the same game of sustainability together.”

All the players in the value chain were present!

By bringing together all the players in the ecosystem of the biobased chemistry, the Plant Based Summit has reached its objective as a business meeting platform, aimed at accelerating commercial development, developing new projects, identifying tomorrow’s solutions and initiating co-development of biobased products.

The event brought together the main suppliers of chemistry and engineering solutions and technologies dedicated to the biobased sector, such as agro-industrials, institutional, scientifi c but also industrials from various application markets…

Cosmetics and personal care, packaging, plastics, paint, construction and building, detergence, textile industries… the major sectors of activity where biobased is a symbol of the future were honored on PBS thanks to its unique positioning dedicated to the biobased chemistry for application markets.

The profile of the congress auditors refl ected a clear overview of the current situation and the progress achieved by the biobased sector. As far as the main fi gures are concerned, 22% of all auditors are involved in Research and Development, closely followed by 20% of General Management profi les and 15% involved in Strategy and Development.

The 2017 participants showed the change of direction taken by these companies. Mainly focused on R&D, the presence of decision-makers and business development functions proves the industrial reality and the short-term project development phases initiated in many companies.

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