Total Corbion PLA, an equally owned joint venture between Total and Amsterdam-based global lactic acid producer Corbion, announced Monday the start-up of the world's second-largest PLA bioplastics plant based in Rayong, Thailand.
The 75,000-tons-per-year bioplastics plant will produce PLA (polylactic acid), a bio-based and biodegradable polymer made from annually renewable resources that offers a reduced carbon footprint versus many traditional plastics, according to the company's press release.
"The new facility will produce a broad range of Luminy® PLA resins from renewable, non-GMO [non-genetically modified organisms] sugarcane sourced locally in Thailand: from standard PLA to innovative, high heat PLA and PDLA [poly d-lactic acid] with unique properties," the statement read.
The Luminy® PLA resins provide a valuable contribution towards the circular economy being 100 percent renewable and biodegradable while offering multiple environmentally-friendly waste solutions, it said.
According to the statement, the products will meet customers' needs in a wide range of markets including packaging, consumer goods, 3D printing, fibers and automotive and are specifically optimized for extrusion, thermoforming, injection molding and fiber spinning processes.
"At the end of their useful life, PLA products can be mechanically or chemically recycled, or in some cases composted and returned to the soil as fertilizer," it added.
According to the press release, Total Corbion PLA will integrate the new facility with its lactide plant, which produces the monomer required for the production of PLA, and whose capacity has simultaneously been expanded to 100,000 tons per year.
Furthermore, a 1,000-tons-per-year PLA pilot plant, which has been operational since the end of 2017, is located on the same site and will be used for product development, it said.
The new PLA facility, with a production capacity of 75,000 tons, is expected to boost the global production of PLA bioplastics by almost 50 percent to 240,000 tons per year.
"The start-up of this state-of-the-art plant establishes Total Corbion PLA as a world-scale PLA bioplastic producer, ideally located to serve growing markets from Asia Pacific to Europe and the Americas," said Stephane Dion, CEO of the company.
"The subsequent increase in global PLA capacity will enable manufacturers and brand owners to move into the circular economy and produce bio-based products with lower carbon footprints and multiple end of life options," he added.
PLA is a fast-growing polymer market with an estimated annual growth rate of 10 to 15 percent, according to the statement.
By Hale Turkes