PHAs, or polyhydroxyalkanoates, are bioplastics that can replace traditional polymers made with petrochemical processes using hydrocarbons and it is renewable.
‘Most advanced biopolymers production site in the world’
Bio-on and Cristal Union plan to open a €70m production site in the next three years with a 5 thousand tons/year output, expandable to 10 thousand tons/year, claiming it will be the ‘most advanced biopolymers production site in the world’.
Marco Astorri, CEO, Bio-on, told FoodProductionDaily, bioplastic production is the future.
“Cristal Union is one of the most important sugar production and trading companies in France. It is the EU's fourth largest sugar beet transformer with 14 million tonnes processed with a turnover of €1.8bn,” he said.
“In the next two to three years in Europe everything will change in the sugar market and many companies today are trying to find an alternative to packaging and to use sugar and exchange different types of production.
“We are happy to announce this contract because Cristal Union is an important company and natural bioplastic can contribute towards the growth of the French sugar industry.”
The two companies plan to build a factory at an undisclosed Cristal Union site location, creating 50 jobs in fermentation to produce the bioplastic.
According to Astorri the Food and Beverage industry is entering a ‘new era in polymer production’.
“It’s not a quick process and we need the production capacity and the technical capabilities to replace polypropylene (PP) and other plastics from oil,” he added.
'We are rediscovering green plastic'
“PHA is not a new thing, it was discovered by scientists in the last century but today with a greener evolution to find a green solution we are rediscovering green plastic.
“Bio-on and Cristal Union plan to start construction on the plant at the end of this year and the beginning of 2016 depending on local authority permission granted in the next six to eight months. We hope operations will begin in two years’ time.”
In North America, TerraVerdae BioWorks, based in Canada and Alberta Innovates Bio Solutions have scaled-up optimization of the bioprocess for PHA Bioplastics
TerraVerdae's process uses ‘green’ methanol from, forestry, municipal, agricultural or industrial waste sources, instead of petroleum or sugar-based sources to produce polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA).
William Bardosh, CEO/founder, TerraVerdae BioWorks, said reaching this milestone was an important step to full commercial production of next generation industrial materials that are sustainable.
"Our C1 based bioprocess is very adaptable to a variety of high performance biomaterials," said Bardosh.
"The first of our products using this technology, biodegradable microspheres, are a natural substitute for plastic microbeads. We are also developing a range of products for the $200bn global bioproducts market, including biodegradable 3D printing filaments, specialty films and performance coatings."