Bio-based products, in contrast
to fossil-based products, are at a disadvantage when it comes to their market
uptake. One of the difficulties is that for many producers, making the switch
is just not economically viable. Sustainable supply chains need to be built up,
but small volumes and comparatively expensive feedstocks can make transitioning
uncompetitive and the business risk can be too high.
Establishing new dedicated biorefineries remains challenging
due to the substantial capital investment required. Therefore, it seems
practical to make use of existing oil refineries to process renewable raw
material instead. However, oil refineries operate at scales far beyond the
possible supply of renewable raw materials and so integrating renewable raw
materials alongside fossil materials in refineries is at least a step towards
increasing the scope of the bio-based industries.
Nevertheless, using a relatively
small amount of renewable alongside non-renewable raw material will as a result
lead to insignificant amounts of renewable content in the vast array of subsequent
materials originating from the small selection of initial base chemicals. Creating
products without any meaningful proportion of renewable content due to this
dilution somewhat eliminates the motivation for incorporating it in the first
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