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The Biomass Budget: The limitations of biomass as a raw material in the chemical sector


As the source of 6.1 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, the chemical sector is a major driver of the deepening climate crisis. Chemical companies bear a responsibility to reduce their impact on the climate, and this is the critical decade to do so.

Companies are increasingly looking to biomass—biological material derived from living or recently living organisms, usually plant matter—as an ostensibly low-carbon alternative to fossil fuel feedstocks in primary chemical production. Yet biomass is not automatically low-carbon, and it also faces other major sustainability challenges related to its intensive use of land resources and its impacts on biodiversity.

In this briefing, we outline the risks of turning to biomass as an alternative feedstock, and set out how companies can minimise their exposure to these risks.