Environmental analysis of competing products for biovanillin from Borregaard

The goal of this project is twofold: a) to gain knowledge on the potential environmental impact of competing products to biovanillin from Borregaard, based on publicly available and documented data for the competing products, and b) to educate Borregaard’s partners and customers on the sustainability of Borregaard’s biovanillin. Hence, the study shall support comparative assertions intended to be disclosed to the public. The following competing products have been considered:

–       Guaiacol vanillin manufactured from fossil raw materials in USA;

–       Guaiacol vanillin manufactured from fossil raw materials in France;

–       Guaiacol vanillin manufactured from fossil raw materials in China;

–       Eugenol vanillin manufactured from clove/eugenol in Indonesia;

–       Eugenol vanillin manufactured from clove/eugenol in China.

The comparison to the considered competing products has been performed on a kg-to-kg basis and the following have been found: 

  • The total climate change burden (GWP-total) for Borregaard’s biovanillin is, per kilogram, much lower than for the considered competing products.
  • The considered competing eugenol-vanillin products present a higher contribution to GWP-total than guaiacol-vanillin products. 
  • The contribution to GWP-total for eugenol and guaiacol is mostly linked to the energy requirements associated with the synthesis to vanillin and therefore, the choice of electricity mix plays an important role for the climate change results.
  • For the other indicators, the competing product eugenol-vanillin produced in Indonesia with eugenol extracted via hydrodistillation technique is the one that presents the worst environmental performance. Borregaard’s biovanillin presents a much lower contribution to the considered environmental indicators than the assessed competing products.
  • The energy and chemical requirements considered in this study for both eugenol and guaiacol-vanillin production pathways are based on laboratory and pilot-scale studies and therefore, have associated a significant level of uncertainty. This may affect results and the ranking between products.

The study is carried out using life cycle assessment (LCA) methodology according to the ISO-standards 14040/44 (ISO 2006, ISO 2006). The study has been reviewed by PhD Fredrik Johnsen through an external critical review.

Any interpretation of the study that makes a comparison of the environmental profile against specific products is not compatible with the critical review process of the study.