Natureworks breaks ground on biopolymer plant in Thailand
Natureworks, a joint venture between America’s Cargill and Thailand’s PTT Global Chemical, has begun construction of a $600 million factory in the Kingdom’s agricultural heartland that will use sugar to produce bioplastics.
The new facility is a representative of how American and Thai private-sector companies are partnering to build and support the bio-green-circular (BCG) economy, which is the paradigm for Thailand’s shift towards more sustainable and advanced development, as well as reaping profits. The facility will also help Thailand’s objective of using its wealth of agricultural raw materials for higher-value purposes. The Kingdom is the second-largest sugar producer in the world after Brazil.
“This is a meaningful milestone for the whole NatureWorks team,” said Rich Altice, President and Chief Executive of NatureWorks.
The factory will produce polylactic acid (PLA), a sugar-derived biopolymer that is used in a wide range of goods including coffee capsules and food packaging, 3D printing filament, hygienic masks, toys, tableware, color pigments, medical devices and home appliances.
Best of all, PLA is biodegradable, making it much friendlier to the environment than conventional petroleum-based plastics. Many Thai companies have been instituting policies to reduce use of single-use plastics in recent years because of the damage they have been doing to the environment.
The new facility in Nakhon Sawan BioComplex in Nakhon Sawan province is the second biopolymer production plant built by the partners. The first was in Blair, Nebraska. The new facility will have an annual production capacity of 75,000 tons of biopolymers and is expected to be completed in the second half of 2024.