mercredi 1 juillet 2009

Bioplastics are Flourishing: Investment and expansion

Cargill announced today that it will assume full ownership of NatureWorks LLC, as part of Teijin Limited’s general portfolio restructuring in response to the global economic downturn. Previously a 50-50 joint venture, NatureWorks is now an independent company wholly owned by Cargill.

“The green product space is ripe for investment and expansion as never before,” said Cargill Senior Vice President Paul Conway. “As a green pioneer, NatureWorks is well established with a broad product and customer base. While others put up pilot plants, NatureWorks has been commercial for six years, is increasing Ingeo™ production availability at its first facility and exploring possibilities for a second plant. We've rounded the first turn while others are at the starting gate.”

Ingeo™ fibers and plastics are used by over 100 leading brands & retailers in the United States, Europe, and Asia. Product innovations in broad plastics applications include flexible & rigid fresh food packaging, durable consumer articles, beverage packaging, and in fibers: apparel, home textile, personal care and hygiene applications.

German bioplastics compounder FKuR Kunstoff GmbH is importing material into the US and Canada and hopes to have a North American production site by 2012.

“We want to have a sales staff and production in [North America], but we need to have about 3,000 kilotons of demand there before we take that step,” Bonten said. He added he was optimistic that FKuR could reach that goal by 2012.

FKuR makes compounds based on combinations of polylactic acid (PLA), polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) and similar materials. The firm’s suppliers include BASF, NatureWorks and Tianan Biologic Material.

Bioplastic compounds made by FKuR include Bio-Flex-brand compostable PLA blends and Biograde-brand cellulose blends. Markets for Bio-Flex include fruit and vegetable packaging, as well as bags for waste and mulch. Biograde is being sold into cutlery, bottles and technical parts

L’Oreal has joined a number of industrial partners to sponsor research into bioplastics to develop new materials suitable for consumer goods packaging.

Nestlé, Schneider Electric and PSA Peugeot Citroën are also part of the venture that is sponsoring a Chair in bioplastics at the Ecole des Mines de Paris.

The group will sponsor the Chair for five years, to be led by Tatiana Budtova, with the aim of creating plastics from renewable materials that can replace petrochemical feedstock.

According to the Parisian engineering school, developing such materials is necessary for industry in light of depleting petrochemical stores, price variability and the environmental issues surrounding a non renewable resource.

Bormioli Rocco is investing heavily in the production and development of bottles and caps made of recycled PET and bioplastics.

During the first semester of this year, Bormioli Rocco Plastics has produced nearly 500,000 PET recycled bottles for a brand of shampoo. The Italian designer of plastic bottles and caps is also investing in the development of bioplastic materials, in particular in bio-based PE and PP.

According to William Hitchon, Bormioli Plastics’ cosmetics sales manager “in the future, brands claiming a natural positioning for their formulas will have to think using innovative packaging derived from agriculture, in particular as a significant production capacity of non GMO materials will be available by 2010. Provided that marketing departments make some concessions regarding aesthetic related concerns”.

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