Bioplastic, Company initiatives, Investments

Corbion mulls 75 ktpa PLA project

Corbion Purac continues to expand its reach in the bio-based chemicals sector and if anybody knows the situation on the PLA resin market, it is this company, which has been supplying lactides to PLA producers and co-developing PLA-based products with its customers.

The problem with PLA is that there is only one big volume supplier worldwide – NatureWorks. Potential customers will be definitely hesitant to depend on just one supplier especially when it comes to renewable chemicals and bioplastics – and companies such as IBM, PepsiCo, Intrexon, and Method noted this challenge at the recent World Bio Markets USA conference in San Diego.

Corbion Purac announced its intention to build a 75 ktpa PLA production capacity in Thailand in order to bring new biodegradable solutions to the plastics industry, and increase global PLA production capacity. This announcement forms a part of Corbion’s updated strategic direction for 2015 – 2018. According to Corbion, there is an attractive demand outlook for PLA, albeit at a lower growth pace than previously assumed. The company reasoned that it has strong position in lactic acid, a unique high heat technology (that expands further use of PLA), and the market need for a second PLA producer.

Corbion intends to invest in the EUR 60 million PLA plant only if it can secure at least one‐third of plant capacity in committed PLA volumes from customers. Corbion will also continue exploring strategic alliances as part of their PLA growth strategy, in order to enhance the business opportunities while mitigating the associated risks.

Corbion Purac will continue selling lactides to both existing and new PLA polymerization customers. Lactide sales for the coatings and adhesives markets will also continue. Corbion said many of its existing polymerization customers have already successfully built a strong local presence and distribution channel, with great market coverage.

Worldwide PLA capacity is reportedly almost sold out and with the PLA market expected to grow to 600 ktpa by 2025, the market is seeking additional PLA suppliers.

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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