Plants to Plastics—Can Nature Compete in Commodity Polymers?

Feb 9, 2012

WHITE PLAINS, NY – Nexant, Inc. announced today the publication of Plants to Plastics—Can Nature Compete in Commodity Polymers?, the newest title in its series of ChemSystems Special Reports.

As concerns about carbon footprints and sustainability continue to grow—and with oil prices rising above $100 per barrel—some of the world's biggest players in the chemical industry are seeking new feedstocks and products from renewable sources.

Nexant’s new report analyzes the available technologies for producing commodity polymers via renewable resources. It investigates alternative feedstock routes and feedstock sources and provides an economic comparison of conventional and alternative routes to commodity polymers. Going forward, chemical intermediates produced in this fashion could significantly supplement petroleum feedstocks.   

Plants to Plastics—Can Nature Compete in Commodity Polymers? provides independent, unbiased assessments of such technologies. These assessments are critical to polymers producers and investors seeking to enhance their business by incorporating technologies based on renewable resources and feedstocks. The report covers:

  • Bio-based technologies for the production of feedstocks and intermediates leading to the commodity polymers: PE, PP, PVC, and PET
  • New technological developments
  • Comparison economics of the bio-based routes with conventional routes
  • Commercial status of green polymers
  • Market outlook for the commodity polymers

The report analyzes technologies, feedstocks, and intermediates—downstream to commodity polymers.  It investigates renewable feedstocks, such as corn, sugarcane, and other types of biomass that could provide an alternative to the traditional petrochemical feedstocks that are currently driving the polymer industry.  A number of sensitivities were also included to show the effect that different prices for crude oil, natural gas, and propylene can have on some processes.  
In addition, the report highlights some alternative routes to intermediates such as:

  • A speculative route to polyethylene utilizing a methanol-to-olefins bio-based route
  • A speculative route to polypropylene utilizing a fermentation-to-propanol route
  • A bio-based route to para-xylene utilizing biomass such as wood chips

Plants to Plastics—Can Nature Compete in Commodity Polymers? is available immediately.  For more information on this and other Nexant reports, please visit: or contact Jim Virosco at or Leon Mavridis at