DuPont Industrial Biosciences, together with agri trader Archer Daniels Midland Co (ADM), have opened the world’s first pilot plant producing furan dicarboxylic methyl ester (FDME) from bio-based materials, namely corn.

FDME was a fructose-derived molecule that could be utilised in the production of a variety of bio-based chemicals and materials, including plastics, DuPont said in a 30 April statement.

According to the company, nearly one-tenth of global oil consumption was used to manufacture plastic products, which made avoiding fossil-based plastics virtually impossible due to a lack of commercially available alternatives.

With the new plant, located in Decatur, Illinois, DuPont and ADM said they wanted to address the lack of viable sustainable raw materials for plastic.

“This new, innovative product will help customers replace plastics with materials that are more environmentally friendly, better performing and cost efficient,” said ADM chief technology officer Todd Werpy.

One of the first FDME-based polymers DuPont was developing was polytrimethylene furandicarboxyate (PTF) for bottling applications.

The FDME-based PTF had up to 10-15 times better CO2 barrier performance than regular PET plastic, which resulted in longer shelf life and could help companies design more light-weight packages and lower carbon emissions and shipping costs, said DuPont.