Japanese chemical manufacturing company Kaneka Corporation (Kaneka) has announced it is expanding its production of biodegradable polymer in Japan with a new plant.

The new plant at Kaneka’s Takasago manufacturing site is expected to produce 15,000 tonnes/year of biodegradable polymer when it becomes operational in January 2024, the company said in its 7 February statement.

Combined with the existing plant’s 5,000 tonnes/year capacity, the total production capacity would be 20,000/tonnes/year, Kaneka said.

The company said its Green Planet biomass polymer, chemically known as poly-beta-hydroxybutyrate (PHBH), was produced by micro-organism bio-synthesis using plant oils.

Green Planet was being used for straws, cutlery, coffee capsules, bags, film and other products, the company said, and also biodegraded easily in soil and in both salt water and fresh water.

Kaneka said its Green Planet product could replace approximately 25M tonnes/year of traditional single-use plastic products worldwide and it was planning to expand its production capacity in Europe and the USA to meet growing demand.

The new production plant would be used to develop new products, the company said.

Osaka-based Kaneka produces chemical products such as functional resin, foam resin, and synthetic fibres and has also been involved in the medical equipment business.