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9. Sep 2021 | Raw materials

Market report: Preservation in the focus

Damir Gagro

Biocides play a major role in keeping paints and coatings free of harmful microorganisms. However, regulation of biocides is affecting their usage more and more. Industry experts share their views on the current situation and future development of the biocide market.

Biocide manufacturers see a challenge above all in the increasingly strict regulations.
Image source: ggw - Stock.adobe.com

Additives are only used in small quantities in coating formulations. It is therefore not surprising that additives only account for a good 4 % of the total volume of coating raw materials. Of the 1.5 million metric tons, about 300,000 metric tons are biocides for in-can and film preservation. Market research firm Chem Quest puts the value at about USD 1.8 billion. Markets and Markets, a market research firm, estimates a lower value, just under USD 1 billion. David Zilm of Vink Chemicals rates this order of magnitude of 300. 000 tons as a realistic range.

Market demand will slightly increase for biocides

Although there is a strong desire for biocide-free or low-biocide formulations, Zilm believes it is simply not possible to eliminate biocides at this time. As a result, he also expects a small increase in global demand. “About 3-5% is realistic. As people around the world are increasingly relying on water-based systems and many sales markets will shift to that. Thus, there will also be more demand for preservation,” Zilm is certain.

Asia Pacific and South America have low per-capita consumption; hence these regions provide huge growth opportunities for industry participants in the biocide market for paints & coatings industry, find the researchers of Markets and Markets. An increase in the applicability of biocides can be attributed to antimicrobial, antifungal and antibacterial properties coupled with construction industry growth.

These two factors are likely to drive biocides demand, according to their research results. “While there are many uncertainties in the near term, the coatings industry currently remains strong.  We are seeing high demand for our products and services worldwide, and we expect this to continue, while at the same time remaining vigilant and well-prepared for future Covid-related and post-Covid effects. We expect the biocides market to remain strong in the near and medium terms. Specifically, we’ll likely see IPBC and BIT continue to be strong players”, says Mario Albus of Troy.

Higher interest for anti-viral paints

The pandemic may also be another factor in increasing demand for antimicrobial coatings and surfaces. Monika Lamoratta of Lanxess believes the coronavirus pandemic will influence the public perception with regard to biocides. “People will presumably show a better acceptance of chemicals to protect their lives from microorganisms like bacteria and fungi. Moreover, the pandemic strongly influences all our lives and we understand that hygiene is a key factor for health safety. On top of this we clearly see an increasing demand of label-friendly disinfectants as well as clean products”, she says.

According to Peter van Aken of Lonza, paints with anti-viral claims also require registration, for which an extensive data package related to those paints is needed. “There might be a higher interest in such paints, but eventually it remains a niche market due to its high barrier. Also, the choice of active substances here remains limited”, he states. Zilm notices that many companies work on VOC-free or low-VOC solutions, which explains a certain direction to antimicrobial paints. “Many companies are jumping on the bandwagon with silver ions. On the one hand, it certainly makes sense, but whether such surfaces also develop their potential in reality and not only under laboratory conditions remains questionable for me”, Zilm says.

According to Albus, this shift will only increase the demand for biocides and antimicrobial solutions. “Recently, and particularly in light of the global pandemic, there has been an increasing market interest in dry-film antibacterial protection for interior coatings.  Example applications include day-care centers, hospitals, food processing locations, and elder care facilities, as well as private homes”, he says.

Market driven by regulation

But the market is not driven by such customer needs. For Albus, particularly in Europe, the regulatory climate continues to pose the greatest challenges. “Will the pandemic help change the mind-set about biocides amongst legislators? We will have to wait and see. In the meantime, regulatory hurdles continue to discourage innovation in this sector, while newly imposed limits continue to pose difficulties for coatings manufacturers seeking to adequately protect their products while avoiding hazard labelling”, Albus says.

The market is fundamentally driven by regulations, and these also control the trends, as Zilm explains. Also, Lamoratta admits that the biocide market in general has been regulatory driven for many years.

Tip

The topic of biocide regulation in the coatings industry is also in the focus in of ourrecent podcast episodes. Gabi Büttner of UMCO explains the differences between the European biocide regulation and other regulations such as REACH, the ongoing process of evaluating active substances on the market and the challenges for the industry.

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