It is estimated that around 100 million tonnes of lignin are generated around the globe, corresponding to an approximate market value of roughly at $732.7 million. However, only 2% of this total volume is actually recovered and sold for commercial purposes at present, equating to 2 million tonnes used in various applications downstream. The market typically ranges from high value specialised applications for which lignin commands a price of >$600/ton, through to low value bulk applications. High value specialist applications include the production of BTX and vanillin for example. The majority (~60%) of lignin is sold in medium value markets where it commands a price of $300-600 per tonne. These include use in concrete mixtures, dyes and dispersants. (GIFNIC; Forestry Commission; CSL. Non-Timber Markets for Trees., Hämäläinen, V., Grönroos, T., Suonpää, A., Heikkilä, M.W., Romein, B., Ihalainen, P., Malandra, S. and Birikh, K.R., 2018. enzymatic Processes to Unlock the lignin Value. Frontiers in bioengineering and biotechnology, 6, p.20.)
There is considerable potential for growth in the market for lignin, and this is one of the key market areas that the OLEAF4VALUE project will investigate further going forward.