Corbion and Total in PLA Joint Venture

18.11.2016 -

Netherlands-based Corbion and French energy and petrochemicals group Total are linking up in a bioplastics joint venture in Thailand. The 50:50 joint venture, to be located in the Netherlands, will center on the production and marketing of polylactic (PLA) polymers. The new company is set to start operations in the first quarter of 2017, pending regulatory approvals. Groundbreaking ceremonies took place on Nov. 9.

The partners will build a 75,000 t/y PLA polymerization plant at Corbion’s existing site in Rayong, Thailand. It will produce Corbion’s full range of Luminy polymers, from standard resins to high-heat resistant PLA, using proprietary technology from both Corbion and Switzerland’s Sulzer.

In addition, Corbion’s lactide (PLA monomer) plant at Rayong, which will also become part of the jv, is to be expanded by 25,000 t/y. Details of capacity after the expansion were not provided. The Dutch company said it will be able to service both current and future customers after the expansion as well as produce a wider range of lactides than currently possible.

Both the PLA plant and the extra lactide output are scheduled to be ready in the second half of 2018. “PLA is one of the first renewable, biodegradable polymers able to compete with existing polymers. The joint venture, which will combine Total’s technical and marketing knowledge and leading position in polymers with Corbion’s expertise in lactic acid and biopolymers, will enable us to supply innovative products and will accelerate market acceptance,” said Corbion’s CEO, Tjerk de Ruiter.

For Total Refining & Chemicals, the investment fits with its One Total strategy of expanding in biofuels and bioplastics in addition to its traditional oil- and gas-based products, said its president, Bernard Pinatel. “The joint venture will allow us to supply an innovative material that is 100% renewable and biodegradable and that responds to sustainability concerns,” he said.

The PLA market is estimated to grow at an average annual rate of 10-15% to 2025, the companies said.