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Market Trends on Bio-based and Plant-based Resins

SpecialChem – Dec 31, 2020

TAGS:  Environmentally Friendly Coatings     

Market Trends on Bio-based and Plant-based ResinsA vital aspect of every paint or coating composition is the resin's input to the paint's overall efficiency characteristics. The resin is by far the most vital ingredient of a coating; all other ingredients merely adjust the resin.

Solvents influence flow, pigments create aesthetic effects and help save money; however, the physicochemical characteristics of the resins employed are the key variations between different paint formulation.

What are Resins?

The resins are solid or extremely thick plant or chemically-synthesized materials that can normally be transformed into polymers. Plants naturally produce resins in reaction to harm in order to safeguard themselves. For contemporary paintings, the three most prevalent binders (resins) in use are:

  • Alkyd resins
  • Epoxy resins, and
  • Acrylic resins

Acrylic resins are today's most commonly utilized binder mechanism for coatings, primarily as water-borne latex polymeric materials for the architectural coating industry.

In recent years, increasing ecological & economic problems, and volatility associated with scarce petrochemical feedstock have contributed to significant growth in bio-based resins research and production. Bio-based resins come from plants as well as other sustainable agro-based, aquatic, and biomass resources and provide a substitute to traditional petrochemical resins. In paints and coatings, bio-based resins are utilized for a variety of purposes, such as:

  • Lacquers
  • Paints, and
  • Varnishes

Manufacturers are focusing on replacing petroleum-based resins with resins obtained from biological sources in order to meet the industrial demand for eco-friendly technologies and products which promote sustainable growth.

In reality, bio-based coating feedstocks are older than conventional petroleum-based alternatives. Moreover, it is of utmost importance to develop healthier methods of resin processing, as well as the application of cleaner building blocks and supplements in polymer products for use in coatings.

Let us explore how these bio-based resins are processed & their current market trends to obtain a sustainable future.


Sustainability of Bio-based Resins


Sustainable Environment Sustainability encompasses every phase in the life-cycle of resins from feedstock processing, formulation, usage, and discharges to the environment when used in coating applications.

Bio-based resins for paints and coatings are processed in two ways:



Processing by Drop-in Replacements


As drop-in replacements, bio-based feedstocks are introduced into an existing fossil-based manufacturing process and chemically-similar substances are made. It is a fairly easy method for paint producers because the resins developed in this way are no different from their petroleum-derived counterparts. Thus, the formulation of the resin must not be modified.

Glycerol discharged in the synthesis of biodiesel, for instance, can be transformed into propylene glycol, epichlorohydrin, or acrylic acid, respectively, for the manufacture of unsaturated polyester, epoxy, and acrylic resins. Drop-in bio-based products, although readily available with minimum switching obstacles, are actually fit for use and have no contaminants or volatility that may create usage problems.


Processing by New Building Blocks


Besides these drop-in methods, new building blocks can also be created for bio-based resins. More advanced bio-based resins leverage on new (bio-)chemical ingredients and monomers, which might entail extra production steps but are compensated with unique product properties that can unlock doors to different markets and uses. These include:

  • Lignin phenols for formaldehyde resins
  • Epoxy oils for vegetable oil-based epoxy resins, and
  • Sugar-derived products like the polyol in polyurethane (PU) resins

New building blocks can bring new characteristics and prospects, yet they have a tougher path since they have to be expanded to enter end markets as well as applications simultaneously.

Advancements in Wood derived Bioproducts


How to Reduce the Carbon Footprint?


A process named carbon dating may be used to measure the bio-based content of a substance. Bio-content concentrations are typically confirmed by analyzing the green-to-fossil carbon ratio, in compliance with ASTM D6866. This approach analyzes and relates the content ratio of carbon-14 (C14) to carbon-12 (C12) isotopes. Latest biomaterials have a C14 to C12 ratio higher than that from non-renewable resources like coal and petroleum. The use of these bio-based resins may enable paint producers to decrease their carbon footprint.

The main drivers for bio-based products are quality distinction, efficiency, or perhaps both. Growing preference for greener processes and growing awareness of carbon footprint has gradually steer end-users and producers away from fossil fuel-based products to eco-friendly solutions.

The carbon footprint from the processing of raw materials to the finished product is measured using a technique for life cycle assessments. Researchers, regulators and industries face an environmental problem with new bio-based substances, the rewards of oil-based raw materials substitution and carbon footprint reduction may arise from increased use of farmland and associated environmental impacts.

Proactive decision-making, therefore, necessitates a detailed review of all of the ecological impacts of bio-based ingredients relative to their traditional alternatives derived from petroleum. A life cycle assessment is often carried out for this purpose on a wide variety of bio-based substances. All bio-based and traditional petroleum-based substances usually have their environmental impacts measured by the standard international life-cycle evaluation technique (ISO 14040 and 14044).

Bio-based Resins: Benefits


Research Methodology


The study was carried out by our Analysis Department in the first quarter of 2020 using newsletter/email, website landing page, and online questionnaires. The content is confidential and will not be made accessible to others without the prior consent of the research sponsor. Data sources include:

  • SpecialChem interviews and network feedback from consulting companies
  • Raw material producers, and
  • Paint formulators


Current Market Perspective


Our findings showed that at present, acrylic resins still dominate the market followed by polyurethane (PU) and alkyd resins. Bio-based and other types of resins represent a small fraction of the resins in use for the coating industry. The result obtained from 85 respondents using multiple-choice questions is as shown below.

Acrylic Resins are Today's Most Commonly Utilized Binder Mechanism for Coatings
Acrylic Resins are Today's Most Commonly Utilized Binder Mechanism for Coatings


In terms of the application of bio-based resins, the study revealed the highest natural response to bio-based and plant-based resins is from decorative, flooring, and furniture segments of the market for which the resins were specially formulated. The result obtained from 85 respondents using multiple-choice questions is as shown below. Wall paints lead with respect to the application of bio-product.

Coating Segments which will Likely Switch to Bio-based and Plant-based Resins
Coating Segments which will Likely Switch to Bio-based and Plant-based Resins


The research also showed that price premium acceptance still remains a challenge. Price acceptance could be described as the attitude of users in terms of price and the maximum price a user is willing to pay for bio-products. The bio-based resins should be more than bio-based. They generally need to have performance benefits, especially when they are priced over the petroleum-based resins that they substitute either as direct replacements or novel substitutes.

Users expect superior performance for their specific application to consider a price premium. Users are still constrained in their readiness to spend more on bio-based products just because they are green. In this case, the drivers to buy biomaterials are relatively weak. It must have both a fair price and good efficiency. The result obtained from 62 acrylic resin users and 43 PU resin users using multiple-choice questions are as shown below.

Premium Price Acceptance between Acrylics and PU Resin Users
Premium Price Acceptance between Acrylics and PU Resin Users


Market Dynamics


The main reasons the coating market leans toward plant and bio-based resins are due to:



Environmental RegulationsEnvironmental Regulations


The 2019 European Coatings Survey showed that environmental regulation is the second major driving force behind this change. Internationally, environmental and health standards are becoming more closely regulated.

Governments in collaboration with environmental protection agencies set limits for various chemical ingredients, particularly those that are known as potential pollutants.

Health ConcernsHealth Concerns


Public demand for low-emission coatings stems not just from environmental issues, but also from worries about their own health. People want to breathe cleaner, safer air both indoors and outdoors. End-users are more and more concerned about the toxic materials that paints can discharge into their apartments. Such contaminants can be inhaled into the airways, leading to declining health over time.

End-users and painters believe that the newest trend in wall painting is personal health. Consumers are increasingly choosing to purchase bio-based paints that are viewed as safer and eco-friendly. Like buyers, painters often express their growing desire in working with wall paints that are free of contaminants and reduce their potential side effects. A growing number of painters say that clients are asking them to utilize green paint products for their work.

Consumer DemandConsumer Demand


Coating producers, feedstock suppliers, and distributors all understand that in the business-to-consumer (B2C) sector, consumer demand is likely to surpass the drive for bio-based coatings than in the business-to-business (B2B) sector. In all sectors of the industry, the B2C segment is considered the most significant driver for plant-based resins. It suggests end-user appetite is projected to push producers towards eco-friendly materials.

According to IKEA's 2018 climate action study report, 'nearly 90% of people say they're ready to adjust their actions to counter climate change'.


Market Restraints


Sustainability is fantastic, however also more costly, sadly. Apart from a specific eco-friendly sustainable market segment, prices play a vital role in transitioning to bio-based feedstocks. With the decline in the prices of traditional petroleum-based feedstocks in recent times, the extensive use of green feedstocks has become more complicated.

The 2019 European Coatings Survey also identified supply-chain risks, life cycle assessments, and the impact of agricultural and social consequences (in that order) as other restraints in the transition towards bio-based materials.

Bio-based feedstock suppliers must also resolve doubts about the quality, availability, and genuine sustainability of bio-based resins, as well as ensuring fair and favourable pricing and efficiency.

Amidst these impediments, plant and bio-based resins are becoming more and more relevant as ingredients for paint and coatings manufacture.

Raw Materials, R&D for Coatings & Inks


Market Opportunities and Future Trends


  • Global paints and coatings market estimated at about ~140€ billion in 2018 and expected to exceed 180€ billion by 2024.
  • Current bio-based coatings’ share is hard to estimate and vary between 7€ billion and 14€ billion depending on the bio-content.
  • Bio-based ingredients will become more important as the world transitions towards a sustainable future that decreases carbon footprints and reliance on conventional energy sources.


Executive Summary


  • The resin is by far the most vital ingredient of a coating.
  • Acrylic resins are today's most commonly utilized binder mechanism for coatings.
  • The highest natural response to bio-based and plant-based resins is from decorative, flooring, and furniture segments of the market.
  • Price premium acceptance still remains a challenge. Users are still constrained in their readiness to spend more on bio-based products just because they are green.
  • Bio-based resins come from plants as well as other sustainable agro-based, aquatic, and biomass resources and provide a substitute to traditional petrochemical resins.
  • In reality, bio-based coating feedstocks are older than conventional petroleum-based alternatives.
  • The main reasons the coating market leans toward plant and bio-based resins are due to environmental regulations, health concerns, and consumer demand.
  • Bio-based feedstock suppliers must also resolve doubts about the quality, availability, and genuine sustainability of bio-based resins, as well as ensuring fair and favourable pricing and efficiency.
  • Global paints and coatings market estimated at about ~140€ billion in 2018 and expected to exceed 180€ billion by 2024.
  • Current bio-based coatings’ share is hard to estimate and vary between 7€ billion and 14€ billion depending on the bio-content.
  • Bio-based ingredients will become more important as the world transitions towards a sustainable future that decreases carbon footprints and reliance on conventional energy sources.


List of Commercially Available Bio-based Resins Suitable for Coatings




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