European trade association to promote synthetic ethanol

By Katie Bird

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Synthetic ethanol, Ethanol, International trade

A new European trade association has been formed to promote the
interests of synthetic ethanol producers active in the cosmetics,
pharmaceutical and other industries.

The Industrial Ethanol Association (IEA) groups together three synthetic ethanol producers, INEOS, PetroSA Europe and Sasol Solvents Germany. The aim of the association is to represent the interests of the synthetic ethanol sector - ethanol that is produced from fossil fuels instead of agricultural sources - to policymakers and other industry groups, 'in order to promote fair competition and maintain a healthy European ethanol market'.​CosmeticsDesign-Europe.com spoke to Emmanuel Desplechin, the secretary general of the IEA, who explained that the"IEA was created not only because biofuels are high on the political agenda, but also because in areas like trade and customs, all ethanol is treated the same regardless of origin and use."Synthetic ethanol producers are a significant player on the industrial ethanol market and felt the need to be represented, as all EU policies related to agricultural ethanol have a direct impact on the industrial ethanol market where IEA operates,"​ he said. Synthetic ethanol is only used in the industrial ethanol market in high value products such as cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, paints and inks, in contrast to bioethanol which is also used in the beverage and fuel industries. A stated aim of the IEA is to promote and protect the long term future of the sector in Europe, which may be of particular importance at present in the light of the growing attention being paced on bioethanol, ethanol that comes from agricultural sources rather than fossil fuels. The association claim that the EU synthetic ethanol industry is important in securing European supplies of ethanol, and allows for the agricultural ethanol sector to concentrate on biofuels rather than the other industrial applications of the chemical. In addition, the association place particular emphasis on fair international trade and sustainable development. The IEA highlight the difficulties that may be experienced by the European industry if ethanol is imported into the Union at unnaturally low prices. It supports the EU trade tariffs that have been placed on imports of agricultural ethanol stating that "attempts to circumvent EU tariffs illegally or by exploiting legal 'loopholes' undermine the long-term stability of the whole ethanol market (synthetic and agricultural)"​. Ethanol (ethyl alcohol) appears in many cosmetic products and perfumes, as a solvent and an anti-bacterial agent. More specifically alcohol is likely to appear in acne treatments or treatments for oily hair due to its drying qualities. However, there is a significant move at present towards alcohol free cosmetics, fragrances and personal care products. The move, championed by the natural and organic sector of the market, places an emphasis on natural ingredients that not derived from petrochemicals. When asked if he felt this move would affect the synthetic ethanol industry, Mr Desplechin replied: "Downstream industries and everyday consumers sectors depend on synthetic ethanol, because it is a refined and pure product."

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