This is primarily driven by the demand for food-grade lubricants from multinational companies (MNCs). Currently the market for environmentally friendly lubricants is at a nascent stage in Southeast Asian countries such as Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines. There is considerable potential for growth in this region.
New analysis from Frost & Sullivan (chemicals.frost.com), Southeast Asian Market for Environment-friendly Lubricants, finds that the market earned revenues of $39.2 million in 2009 and estimates this to reach $55.6 million in 2016, growing at a moderate compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.1 per cent.
Environment-friendly lubricants are synthetic ester-based compounds that are low in toxicity but without any renewable content. Its main application is in the food manufacturing industry as food-grade lubricants.
"Currently the growth of these lubricants stems from the demand from European and American food manufacturing MNCs, which are more environmentally aware than their Southeast Asian counterparts due to the policies followed in their headquarters," says Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Sushmita Mahajan. "These manufacturers are switching over more readily to environment-friendly lubricants from the conventional mineral oil-based lubricants."
Enhanced green consciousness will certainly bode well for the environment-friendly lubricants market. However, this improved environmental awareness has to be bolstered by government support in the form of regulations to enforce the usage of environment-friendly lubricants, especially in key areas such as forestry, hydraulic dams and mining. Apart from the food manufacturing industry, the product is also finding traction in the subsea oil and gas sector.
Currently, there seems to be some unsubstantiated concerns among end users that environment-friendly lubricants are not as effective as the conventional mineral oil-based ones. Southeast Asian countries are lagging far behind neighbouring countries such as Japan, Korea and even China in environment-friendly lubricants’ usage. Inadequate awareness about the negative environmental impact of mineral oil-based lubricants and few government regulations mandating the use of environment-friendly lubricants are the main reasons behind this.
"With higher environmental awareness, there will be more emphasis on using green products, which will boost the growth of environment-friendly lubricants in Southeast Asia," notes Mahajan. "With increased environmental concerns, more industries, especially the high-risk ones such as forestry, agriculture, subsea oil & gas and the marine sector, which are currently using mineral-oil based lubricants, are likely to switch to environment-friendly lubricants. This switch over will also need support from the government in the form of regulatory changes for the usage of environment friendly lubricants."
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