Last week BEIS published a policy paper on how sustainable biomass can help the UK move to net zero. My initial thoughts are that although it was positive to see the chemical industry mentioned, a more refined view on how biofeedstocks can help the chemical industry move to net zero needs to be produced and included in future policy papers.
The only way to replace petrochemical feedstocks in the chemical industry is to recycle, use captured carbon dioxide or use biofeedstocks, therefore biofeedstocks will be essential to improving the green credentials of the chemical industry. Unfortunately, chemicals were only mentioned 16 times in the 45-page document, whereas in my view, there should be a whole section about chemicals. The strategy also appears to be confounded, as it was noted that biomass should be directed to high value speciality chemicals to ‘ensure maximum value extraction from finite biomass feedstocks’ but the document primarily focuses on biomass to energy which is the lowest value option for biomass. Focusing on biomass to speciality chemicals, and not platform chemicals, would also limit the impact that biofeedstocks can have on the chemical industry. However, as the chemical industry was at least mentioned, hopefully this means that the ‘door is open’ to future changes in policy regarding the chemical industry and biofeedstocks.