Korean biotech company CJ Biomaterials has teamed up with global polylactic acid (PLA) biopolymer manufacturer NatureWorks to develop biopolymers.

NatureWorks said on 15 November that it had signed an agreement with CJ Biomaterials – a division of CJ BIO and part of South Korea-based CJ CheilJedang – to collaborate on the development of materials based on CJ Biomaterial’s PHACT polymers and its Ingeo biopolymers.

As part of the partnership, the two companies would develop biopolymers as an alternative to fossil-fuel based plastics with the initial focus on compostable rigid and flexible food packaging and tableware products.

NatureWorks said the aim was also to develop materials that were more biodegradable.

In addition, the companies planned to expand their relationship beyond cooperative product development for packaging to create new applications in the film and non-woven markets, with the two companies entering into strategic supply agreements for additional applications.

“By combining our PHACT amorphous PHA [aPHA] biopolymers with their [NatureWorks] Ingeo PLA biopolymers, we can deliver advanced solutions that improve the biodegradability and compostability of plastic,” Seung-Jin Lee, head of CJ CheilJedang’s Biomaterials business said.

Jointly owned by Thai integrated petrochemical and refining company PTT Global Chemical’s and global agribusiness giant Cargill, NatureWorks is active in North America, Europe, Japan and Asia Pacific.