The US-based company said the venture would position it to be able to meet around 10 per cent of total European bioplastic demand by 2014. It had taken the decision to invest in a new site in Europe as the region generates the vast majority of demand for its output.
“Currently about 85 per cent of our business is in Europe, with the largest market being packaging, and shoppers/bags falling next in line,” Cereplast spokeswoman Nicole Cardi told FoodProductionDaily.com. “Today most of our European business is in Italy, Spain and Turkey, followed by Germany, Poland and others.”
Cereplast said the site is to be located in Assisi (Cannara), in Umbria and that capacity development would be phased in over the next two years. The initial investment is expected to reach €12m, which will include support from Italian authorities.
The first phase of 50,000 tonnes will begin manufacturing in late 2012, with phase two set to add the remaining capacity by mid-2013, based on market demand, added the firm.
The 125,000 square foot (11,613 square metre) facility will be built on the site of a former industrial chemical plant which, said the company, would help it benefit from existing infrastructure.
"This is a significant step in Cereplast's evolution," said Frederic Scheer, company chairman and CEO. "The development of this plant in Italy reflects Cereplast's continued commitment to providing bioplastic resin to meet soaring demand for this material in the European market.”
He added the new facility would create efficiencies, reduce transportation costs and minimise risks in Cereplast’s business.
“The market for bioplastics in the European Union is expected to be one million tonnes by 2014 according to European Plastics,” said the CEO. “This new manufacturing facility will position Cereplast to effectively serve that expanding market."
The plant will be owned and run by Cereplast Italia SPA, a wholly owned subsidiary of the company. The project will be financed through local and regional financing with Italian institutions and is expected to receive subsidies from various state and local agencies.
The scheme follows a string of recent announcements from Cereplast that it had inked a number of distribution deals in Poland, Croatia and Romania.