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Regulations and changing trends to improve the potential of green solvents market

Espresso-live Speakers
by Abhishek Sreedhar
1 January 2017

The $29 billion solvent industry, estimated to reach $32.5 billion by 2018, is entering an era of regulatory and end-user scrutinization. The U.S. and Europe have imposed strict regulations on solvents such as the European passage of the Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals (REACH) legislation that mandates evaluation of toxicity on several substances. So, to comply with solvent-emission regulations, manufacturers could either set up engineering controls to limit emissions or shift to more eco-friendly options.

Solvents are organic (such as hydrocarbons) or inorganic (such as acids) chemical compounds that are used heavily in industrial cleaning processes to disperse and dissolve, or carry solids, gases, or other liquids. Many of the industrial solvents are not biodegradable; this leads to large amounts of waste, air pollution, and other health concerns. Green solvents are therefore gaining traction among manufacturers as well as consumers.

Green solvents are derived from agricultural sources such as corn, sugarcane, lactic acid, refined glycerin, soybean oil and bio-succinic acid. The green and bio-solvents market, along with its applications, witnessed a moderate-to-high growth in the past few years; this is likely to continue in the coming years. The market size, in terms of value, of green and bio-solvents is estimated to be about $5.58 billion in 2015 and is projected to reach $8.17 billion by 2018, at a CAGR of ~8.0 percent.

Bio-solvents have made rapid incursions into a variety of end-use segments such as edible oil adhesives, printing inks, coatings, food processing, and cleaning products, amongst others. These are based on lactate esters, D-limonene from citrus rinds and soy methyl ester.

In 2016, paints and coatings was the largest application segment of the green and bio-based solvents market, accounting for more than 40 percent share in terms of demand followed by the commercial and domestic cleaning segment.

Eco-friendly nature and low volatile organic compound (VOC) content emission than the conventional petroleum-based solvents are the key reasons that prompt the players to shift from conventional solvents to green solvents. While the usage of petrochemical solvents is the key to a number of chemical processes, it comes at a price with severe implications for the environment

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