Japanese trading house Mitsui & Co has proposed building a bioplastics factory in the south eastern region of the USA, creating one of the largest production sites worldwide for the plant-based packaging material, Nikkei Asia reported.

Involving an estimated US$550M investment, the proposed 400,000 tonnes/year bio-PET plastics factory could open in 2025, the 14 December report said.

Mitsui has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with US-based chemical company Petron Scientech to explore setting up a joint venture, Nikkei Asia wrote.

Bio-based polyethylene terephthalate, known as Bio-PET, is a plant-derived alternative to plastic produced from fossil fuels and is commonly used in drink bottles.

CO² emissions from the factory’s bio-PET plastic would be 70% to 80% lower compared to those from petroleum-derived plastic, the report said.

The Mitsui factory would source bioethanol made from plants such as American corn and Brazilian sugarcane to produce the bio-PET plastic, the report said. Recycled bottles would be mixed into the plastic, which would then be sold as a container material to drink manufacturers.

Global bio-PET plastic production capacity totals around 1M tonnes to date, according to Mitsui, but that volume would surge if the plant went ahead.