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Industry Talk

All systems go for $600 million Thai PLA plant

Complex will include production sites for lactic acid, lactide and polymers.

10th August 2021

Innovation in Textiles
 |  Thailand


NatureWorks, the leading manufacturer of low-carbon polylactic acid (PLA) biopolymers, has obtained final authorisation from parent companies GC International Corporation, a subsidiary of PTT Global Chemical (GC), and Cargill, to build a new Ingeo PLA manufacturing complex in Thailand.

NatureWorks plans to invest in excess of $600 million to construct the complex, which will include production sites for lactic acid, lactide and polymers for plastics and fibres, making it the world’s first PLA facility designed to be fully integrated.

“Thanks to the ongoing support of our parent companies, our plans for a second Ingeo PLA manufacturing location continue to progress,” said Rich Altice, president and CEO of NatureWorks. “This authorisation is an important milestone that ensures we will be ready to begin construction in 2022 on an integrated manufacturing complex that will help us address the increasing global market demand for sustainable materials.”

“GC is committed to operating in accordance with sustainability guidelines and circular economy principles,” said GC CEO Kongkrapan Intarajang. “Sustainability creates balanced growth in economic, social and environmental dimensions.”

“Cargill is excited to take this next step with GC to support the expansion of NatureWorks through its second production facility,” added Colleen May, president of Cargill Bioindustrial. “This marks an important milestone in our continued efforts to invest in sustainable solutions for bioindustrial customers around the world.”

Construction of the new manufacturing complex, to be located at the Nakhon Sawan Biocomplex in Nakhon Sawan Province, will begin in the second quarter of 2022. With an expected opening in 2024, the facility will have an annual capacity of 75,000 tons of Ingeo biopolymer and produce the full portfolio of Ingeo grades.

NatureWorks has also selected engineering partners for the next project phase. Jacobs previously provided the front-end engineering design for the new manufacturing site and will now complete final detailed engineering for the project. Additionally, IAG, has been chosen to partner with NatureWorks on engineering and construction, providing project management, project controls,and procurement services.

In 2002, NatureWorks became the first company to produce PLA biopolymers at commercial scale. In 2013, the company expanded its flagship Blair, Nebraska facility to an annual total capacity of 150,000 metric tons, making it the largest PLA manufacturing plant in the world. NatureWorks also announced a capacity expansion in 2020 at its Blair facility to further increase the availability of Ingeo biopolymers.

The expanded global production of Ingeo biopolymers will support growth in markets including nonwovens and 3D printing, as well as compostable coffee capsules, tea bags, flexible packaging and food serviceware.

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