News Roundup

Weekly News Roundup

I am eager to share my interview about with this new start-up company called Ovation Biotech, which will be included in one of my oleochemical presentation slides (there’s your hint!). I will post that interview as soon as I finish wrapping up my powerpoint presentation this week.

For now, here are this week’s news roundup. Bioplastic it seems is back again in the limelight. In fact, a recent article from BNAmericas noted that sugarcane-based polyethylene producer Braskem will reportedly freeze its plans to build another green PE facility as well as a new sugar-based polypropylene plant. Braskem, it seems has also realized the cost pressure of manufacturing bio-based PE as compared to cheaper shale gas-based PE.

Braskem is the only company commercially producing biobased PE at its 200,000 tonnes/year facility in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. Braskem has been planning to expand its biobased PE with around 400,000 tonnes/year-scale, a new bio-based polypropylene (PP) plant with a capacity between 30,000-50,000 tonnes/year.

There were reports in mid-2012 that these projects have been delayed but according to Braskem late last year, the company did not yet set definite deadlines for these projects, which were still being considered for approval at that time. I guess Braskem management has finally caved in under pressure from investors and credit ratings agencies to cut its leverage and increase cash generation.

Last month, Dow Chemical and Mitsui have also reportedly delay their plans to produce their own sugar-based PE in Brazil.

Purac offers sample PLA resins
Lactic acid producer Purac is now offering a range of specially developed high performance resins made from from PURALACT lactide based polylactic acid (PLA). The range includes PLLA homopolymer resins, PDLA homopolymer resins, and PLA compounded blends specifically developed for injection molding and extrusion. The resins are available for sampling and product evaluation purposes.

L’Occitane uses Braskem’s Green PE
Cosmetic and personal care products company L’Occitane en Provence is now using Braskem’s sugarcane-based polyethylene (PE) plastic in its Bonne Mere line of daily-use body products launched this month. The line is already being sold in France and will be exported to over 85 countries.

Soffinova invests in enzymes firm
Sofinnova Partners’ Green Seed Fund has completed its first investment in MetGen, a startup company that develops industrial enzymes with applications in pulp and paper, advanced biofuels and bio-based chemical industries. MetGen raised a total of €2.2M in a financing round led by Sofinnova Green Seed Fund with participation from Finnish Industry Investment and Finnvera.

Green Dot buys bioplastic biz
Bioplastic products manufacturer Green Dot has acquired the bioplastics division of MGP Ingredients, which includes a manufacturing facility in Onaga, Kansas, and certain assets at the company’s R&D facility in Atchison, Kansas, as well as three lines of bioplastic materials currently sold by MGP under the Terratek brand name. Green Dot will become a full service bioplastics company offering a complete line of bio-based and compostable materials customized to customer needs.

Bioplastic in biodigester study
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh are testing next-generation bioplastics that are more readily decompose and can yield biogas in the campus’ dry fermentation anaerobic “Biodigester.” The plastics research testing will ultimately focus on issues such as the impact of these new biodegradable plastics on the environment, particularly how quickly and safely they break down in the lab and in the Biodigester; and the biogas and energy yield of the materials as they decompose and the readiness of a mass-consumer public to embrace the next-gen materials.

BASF in coconut oil sustainability
The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, BASF and Cargill have launched a program to develop a certified coconut oil supply chain focusing on smallholder coconut growers in the southern Philippine island of Mindanao. The Philippines ranks near the top in global coconut production with over 15bn nuts produced per year. Coconut products contributed almost $2bn in export revenues of the Philippines in 2011. Coconut oil is an ingredient used mainly in food products, while coconut oil derivatives are also used in the home and personal care industry.

IFF, Evolva in natural vanillin
International Flavors & Fragrances (IFF) and Evolva Holding SA have entered a pre-production phase to develop and scale-up, via a third-party, natural vanillin for commercial application through a cost-economic, natural and sustainable route. The two companies are working to confirm scalability and yield targets through a yeast-based fermentation route during the pre-manufacturing phase.

Biomass use to triple to 3.7bn tonnes in 2030
By 2030, biomass demand will soar to 3.7bn tonnes to meet growing feedstock use for biofuela and biochemicals in order to replace petroleum use for chemicals and fuels using today’s technologies, according to a report by Lux Research. The consulting firm noted the current need for more than a billion metric tons of biomass annually in order to just replace 3% of total petroleum-based fuels and chemicals products.

About Doris de Guzman

Will Green Chemistry save the world or is it hype? Doris de Guzman examines alternative processing, new technology, R&D and other sustainability initiatives aimed at preventing pollution; replacing ingredients; and using renewable feedstocks in Green Chemistry. She has been covering the oleochemicals market for 15 years and spread her beat to inorganics, biofuels and green chemistry.

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