Corbion Purac will accelerate its thrust into the biotechnology arena, making the next step in the bioplastics value chain by becoming a polylactic acid (PLA) producer. With entry into PLA, Corbion Purac intends to bring new biodegradable solutions to the plastics industry, and increase global PLA production capacity by a further 75,000 tons per year.
This announcement forms a part of Corbion’s updated strategic direction for 2015-2018. Tjerk de Ruiter, CEO of Corbion, said, “As part of our strategic review we confirmed there is an attractive demand outlook for PLA, albeit at a lower growth pace than previously assumed. Given our strong position in lactic acid, our unique high heat technology and the market need for a second PLA producer, we plan to forward integrate in the bioplastics value chain, from being a lactide provider to a PLA producer.”
Corbion intends to invest in a 75,000 ton per year PLA plant, estimated €60 million ($74.91 million) capex, in Thailand. “We will only commence with this investment if we can secure at least one-third of plant capacity in committed PLA volumes from customers,” de Ruiter said. Corbion will also continue exploring strategic alliances as part of their PLA growth strategy, in order to enhance the business opportunities while mitigating the associated risks.
Corbion Purac will continue selling lactides to both existing and new PLA polymerization customers. Lactide sales for the coatings and adhesives markets will also continue. Many of Corbion’s existing polymerization customers have already successfully built a strong local presence and distribution channel, with great market coverage. Worldwide PLA capacity is almost sold out and with the PLA market expected to grow to 6 million tons per year by 2025, the market is seeking additional PLA suppliers.