Global interest in sustainable materials continued to surge despite a slowdown in demand for surfactants this year, Happi reported.

Worldwide demand for surfactants in all industries is increasing by 4.9%/year and the market is expected to be worth a total of US$57.8bn by 2028, according to Dublin-based ResearchandMarkets. Non-ionics are expected to be the fastest-growing surfactant type with the Asia-Pacific region the fastest-growing region again.

New products that address sustainability and regulatory issues are driving demand in the personal care and home care sectors, according to Tony Gough, technical director of Innospec and the chairman of the CESIO World Surfactant Congress held earlier this year, who was quoted in the 1 September Happi report.

According to BASF representatives, surfactant demand has decreased in comparison to last year, which was mainly due to slower demand from the home care cleaning and personal care sectors.

Although this had directly affected retail sales – with inflationary pressures and consumer cost cutting further exacerbating the situation – BASF said it was optimistic the market would recover and was making investments to meet demand.

BASF investments include the expansion of alkyl polyglucosides (APGs) production capacity at its site in Cincinnati, in the USA, the report said.

The investment in the Ohio plant would enable the company to provide increased support to North American APG customers with local supply points and reduced cross-regional volume flows, Happi wrote. The additional capacities were expected to become available in 2025.

New feedstock sources were among the topics discussed at the CESIO World Surfactant Congress in held June.

For example, Renke Rommerskirchen from Sasol Chemicals outlined the use of organic waste digested by insects as new feedstocks for sustainable products.

The black soldier fly creates an oil that is rich in C12-14 lauric acid, according to Rommerskirchen.

“Insects generate high-value feedstocks from low value waste streams,” he explained. “The oil is already used in livestock feed and biofuel.”

In addition, the insect oil had a negative carbon footprint, he said.

However, the question remained if consumers would accept insect-based household cleaners, the report said.

Rommerskirchen pointed to consumer research conducted in 2019 that found 86% of Belgians were willing to test household cleaning products made with insect-based materials.

A CESIO attendee noted that in Henkel’s research, only 50% of consumers were willing to use insect-based formulas, Happi wrote.

“There may be issues with the vegan community,” he noted. “We must better communicate the benefits to consumers and publish findings in scientific literature.”