Novamont’s bio-based butanediol (BDO) plant, established as a joint venture (Mater Biotech) with San Diego-based Genomatica, will come on stream next year. To say it was yesterday Alberto Castellanza, sales manager of the Italian company, at K 2013, the Trade Fair for Plastic materials and rubber, in Düsseldorf (Germany).
The converting plant’s start-up in 2014 will see Novara-headquartered Novamont use Genomatic’s production process to make BDO, an intermediate that can be used in polymers like Novamont’s biodegradable plastic, Mater-Bi. The plant, that is located in Bottrighe (Veneto, Italy), will have a production capacity of approximately 40 million pounds per year and will use biomass sugars as the renewable feedstock. Novamont will be the majority equity holder, with Genomatic owning a minority share.
Last year, Genomatica said that even though Novamont has committed to purchasing all of the output from the plant, it may purchase a portion to “support further market development”. The deal also includes the possibility that Novamont may build and operate a second BDO plant, added the company.
Castellanza announced the start-up date the first day of the Bioplastics Breakfast, which is taking place 17,18 and 19 October at the K show. The theme of the first day of the conference was bioplastics in packaging and one of the main issues pointed out was the importance of bioplastics in packaging compared to other applications.
Francois de Bie, chairman of European Bioplastics, the association representing the interests of Europe’s bioplastics’ industry, pointed out that although 40% of plastic materials are used in packaging, a massive 80% of bioplastics are used in packaging. “Packaging is often the first thing a consumer sees when buying a product so is very important in improving the manufacturer’s brand image”, he said.
Another theme that emerged from the presentations was the importance of data in the feedstocks versus food debate. De Bie said that total land for bioplastics used is 0.006% of potential arable fields. And Hans Josef Endres from the IfBB (Institute for Bioplastics and Biocomposites) in Hannover said that “even if all the petroleum-based plastics used in packaging were replaced with bioplastics, the feedstocks would still require less than the total arable land around the world”.