Bioplastics company Total Corbion PLA has started up its 75 kilotonne per annum (ktpa) polylactic acid (PLA) bioplastics plant in Rayong, Thailand.
The plant has successfully produced Luminy PLA resins, which are biobased and, in some cases, biodegradable as well, Total Corbion said in a 3 Dec release.
The 50:50 joint venture between the French energy giant Total and Dutch biochemicals company Corbion was set up in the Netherlands in late 2016 for the development of bioplastics.
The new industrial-scale facility will produce a broad range of Luminy PLA resins from renewable, non-GMO sugarcane sourced locally in Thailand. These include standard PLA, high heat PLA and PDLA with “unique properties”.
The products can be used in a number of applications, notably in packaging, consumer goods, 3D printing, fibers and automotive. The materials are also specifically optimised for extrusion, thermoforming, injection moulding and fiber spinning processes.
Total Corbion PLA also announced that it is expanding production of lactide, the monomer required for the production of PLA, at the same site to 100 ktpa.
A 1 ktpa PLA pilot plant, which has been operational since last December will be used for product development at the site, the company added.
“The start-up… 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 commercial-scale production, according to Bernard Pinatel, President Refining & Chemicals at Total, is “fully in line” with the French company’s strategy to expand in petrochemicals and innovate in low-carbon solutions.
“Bioplastics are a great complement to our more traditional petrochemicals products to meet the rising demand for polymers while contributing towards reducing end-of-life concerns,” added Pinatel.
According to Total Corbion, with the start-up of the new plant, global production of PLA has increased by almost 50% to 240 ktpa.
PLA is a fast-growing polymer market with an estimated annual growth rate of 10% to 15%.
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 fertiliser.