Sugar Joins the Fight against Climate Change


The growth fund proposal “Agri-Based Chemicals”, which will be submitted on 31 October 2021, recommends using sugar to enable the large-scale production of materials. This will allow the chemical industry to take a significant step towards sustainability and at the same time develop new and interesting business cases. Initiators TKI-BBE en Groene Chemie, Nieuwe Economie are calling on companies and research institutes to express their support for the proposal with a letter of intent.

Even in a circular economy, the chemical industry is inextricably tied to the use of carbon because it is not possible to produce plastics without it. Agri-Based Chemicals (ABC) presents a new system that aims to replace fossil resources with sugar. This serves multiple purposes at once. The proposal makes climate targets more attainable by replacing the current CO₂ emissions released during the production of materials with a net uptake of CO₂ from the atmosphere. In addition, the proposal opens up new opportunities for the agricultural sector. The nitrogen problem means that land needs to be used differently, and the protein transition—the shift away from the consumption of animal proteins toward plant-based proteins—and the decline in sugar consumption means that the industry is looking for potential new markets. Using sugar to produce materials is one option.

The proposal focuses not only on the development of new technologies, but also on scaling up processes by adopting an approach that covers the entire chain, from field to consumer. This approach will not be able to get off the ground without considerable, additional effort: new production chains demand that both the chemical industry and the sugar processing industry think beyond their existing activities and logistics structures. ABC’s ambition is to re-shape the entire chain, from the agricultural sector to the chemical industry, so that the Netherlands can become an industrial leader in the production of materials using sugars.

Currently, TKI-BBE and Groene Chemie, Nieuwe Economie are working to complete the proposal which will be submitted on 31 October 2021. To increase the chances of success, it is important that companies and research institutes express their support for this proposal. One way they can do this is by writing a letter of intent.

Contact Kees de Gooijer ( (TKI-BBE) or Arnold Stokking ( (GCNE) for more information.