PTT in talks with U.S. firm to produce bioplastics

PTT Global Chemical (PTTGC) is in negotiations with NatureWorks of the U.S., a company it partially owns, to produce bioplastics in the country, as Thailand continues its campaign to go green and sustainable.

Executives of PTTGC, which is part of the partially privatized state energy conglomerate, said last week they planning a new joint venture with NatureWorks. The company will manufacture 20,000 tons of bioplastics at a facility it had been planning to build Thailand but postponed.

Minnesota-based NatureWorks produces bioplastics from carbon found in simple plant sugars. Thailand’s large agricultural sector grows a bounty of raw materials for bioplastics, such as cassava and sugar cane. PTTGC and Cargill of the U.S. are the co-owners of NatureWorks.

French energy firm Total and Amsterdam-based Corbion also plan on using cassava and sugar cane for manufacturing bioplastic polymers in Thailand, according to the Nikkei Asian Review. The companies will invest more than $100 million to build a large-scale production plant with a capacity of 75,000 tons per year.

Thailand has ramped up its campaign to reduce plastic production and use. On the first day of the new year, 25,000 Thai retail outlets stopped providing single-use plastic bags. PTTGC has a target to cut production of single-use plastic by 150,000 tons every year for the next five years.

Each year, Thailand produces around 2.7 million tons of plastic and foam waste, or an average of 7,000 tons per day, according to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment. About 2 million tons are mostly unrecyclable.

Think tank Kasikorn Research Center has forecast that Thai bioplastic exports will rise in value by 14 percent to about $632 million in 2020.

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