Global demand for bio-derived solvents, pigments, additives and resins used in inks is accelerating, as brands and print service providers across all segments look to minimise their impact on the environment.
A new study from Smithers – The Future of Bio-based Inks and Coatings to 2026 – projects that in 2021, this market will be worth a total of USD 5.86 billion worldwide. This is said to advance rapidly at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.90% to reach a forecast value of USD 8.57 billion in 2026.
This is believed to provide a major spur to R&D activity even as ink suppliers adjust their product portfolios to a print landscape radically reshaped by the Covid-19 pandemic. Smithers’ forecasting includes multiple scenarios for this impact across six world regions and 20 leading world markets.
This analysis is segmented further by major print processes, and critical analysis of the leading end-uses. Packaging remains the largest market application – with bio-based flexo inks using innovative green materials, such as nitrocellulose, already on the market.
According to the study, parallel opportunities are also increasing in publications and graphics work, as corporate sustainability goals and government regulations expand to minimise the carbon impact of multiple business processes. In these segments, offset litho operators already have several bio-based options, such as soy-based newsprint inks.
“There is an array of non-petroleum solvents that can be used in printing inks – including soybean, palm, sunflower, rapeseed, vegetable oils; or ethanol,” the report mentioned, adding “while resin options include bio-based acrylics, urethanes and polyamides.” The palette for bio-based pigments features algae or wood derived dark pigments to replace carbon black.
The Smithers report identified that each will present its own technical challenges to match performance parameters, such as quality and run-ability, given by existing petroleum-derived solutions. Smithers’s analysis profiles these, as well as the specific demands in individual end-use segments.
This is contextualised further by analysis of the evolving regulatory environment for new ink components and sustainability, such as the EU’s strategy to make all chemicals sustainable by design; and how these can be sourced effectively as supply chains adjust to a post-Covid economy.