Bioplastic, Company initiatives

Toyota Tsusho’s Bio-PET rolls out

It’s 2am and I’ll make this a quickie post before my eyes pop out of my head.

Illinois, US-based Clear Lam Packaging announced yesterday that it has signed a deal with Toyota Tshusho for the use of its Bio-PET (polyethylene terephthalate) resin in Clear Lam’s rollstock product line.

The new Clear Lam Bio-PET rollstock will be available in December and will run on existing equipment, including form fill and seal machinery used by food processors as well as on traditional industrial thermoformers. Clear Lam said it will incorporate the plant-based Bio-PET in sheet extrusions that will be sold to consumer packaged goods companies and manufacturers of industrial goods.

Toyota Tsusho is currently marketing its bio-PET product under the brand GLOBIO.

Like Coca-Cola’s Plant Bottle, Toyota Tsusho’s Bio-PET is made from 30% by weight sugarcane-based monoethylene glycol (MEG) and the rest from petroleum-based purified terephthalic acid (PTA). Toyota Tsusho’s joint venture company, Greencol Taiwan, with chemical firm China Man-made Fiber Corp. (CMFC) started operating its 100,000 tonne/year bio-MEG plant in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, in the second quarter this year.

Ethanol — the feedstock for MEG — is being secured by Toyota Tsusho from Petrobras in Brazil. The bio-MEG will be handled and supplied by Toyota Tsusho to PET toll manufacturers in Asia, and the off-take bio-PET will then be marketed by the company to end users in Japan, Europe and the US.

Toyota Tshusho plans to produce and sell 200,000 tons/year of Bio-PET starting this year. Toyota Tsusho is targeting annual production and sales of 1m tons by 2015. As of 2011, demand for bio-PET was 150,000 tons representing 0.3% of total PET demand, according to the company.

“Global PET production currently amounts to 45 million tons per year. We expect this figure to increase to 60 million tons by 2015. Of this figure, we believe that around 5%, or 2.25–3 million tons, will be replaced with Bio-PET.” – Toyota Tsusho

Toyota Tsusho said it intents to also become more involved in bioethanol production in the near future to extend its value chain even further. The company currently has a 10-year contract to procure 140m liter/year sugarcane ethanol from Petrobras starting 2012.

Toyota Tsusho also has a PET recycling business, and the company is currently doing some research as well on creating 100% plant-derived PET.

Toyota Tshusho said its parent company, Toyota Motors, is already using some of the bio-PET in the interiors of its automobile models such as seats, carpets and areas where the application of conventional bio-plastics is technically difficult. The company expect its bio-PET to find applications in a number of other fields, such as beverage bottles, apparel and electronic films.

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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