After its announcement late last year of a plan to build a 75 ktpa PLA polymerization plant in Thailand, Corbion recently stated that it has now signed letters of intent for one-third of the volume of planned facility, which is the green signal for the company to go ahead with its plan. Corbion previously noted that it will invest EUR 60 million in the PLA plant only if it can secure at least one-third of the capacity in committed PLA volumes from customers.
Corbion said it has been in contact with a range of existing and new PLA users over the past few months and these contacts have formally confirmed their strong interest to have access to a credible and reliable major 2nd source for PLA resins.
“These commitments were obtained from a broad range of PLA customers, operating in a variety of industries including food, packaging and fibers, located across different geographies.” Corbion CEO Tjerk de Ruiter
In order to further accelerate market acceptance of PLA, Corbion has already begun to test, validate and sell pre-marketing volumes of PLA. The pre-engineering is in full progress and is expected to run until end of the year. Corbion will also continue exploring strategic alliances as part of its PLA growth strategy in order to mitigate associated risks.
The bioplastic market is still waiting for NatureWorks to go ahead on its planned 75 ktpa PLA project in Southeast Asia (announced in 2012). According to a recent presentation from the company, NatureWorks expects its new plant to start producing in 2018 using sugarcane for feedstock. No word yet on the specific location although there is a great probability that it will be located in Thailand given that it is the home base of NatureWorks’ parent company PTT Global Chemical (NatureWorks is 50/50 owned by Cargill and PTTGC). Engineering is reportedly ongoing for this PLA project.
There was a recent report that NatureWorks is expected to make its decision on the location of the plant by the end of May. The Malaysian government is also reportedly offering the company attractive incentives for the company to set up shop in this region.
At the recent NPE Plastics trade show, NatureWorks announced new product launches such as new Ingeo high performance injection molding and extrusion formulations for ABS replacement, as well as new Ingeo grades designed specifically for PLA filament for the 3D printing market. The company said it has also introduced a full suite of technical support services for the additive manufacturing industry’s leading 3D printer and filament producers, and created an in-house print lab in order to support the growing 3D printing market.
NatureWorks also announced early this month that it has strengthened its partnership with the Green Sports Alliance where members can access NatureWorks’ expertise in developing cost-competitive waste diversion programs that will include the use of Ingeo-based bioplastic products, promotion on the benefits of composting, as well as educational webinars, discussion panels, supporting case studies, and workshops on topics such as bioplastics, composting and diversion success strategies at sports venues and events.