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South Korean chemical company LG Chem and global agribusiness giant ADM have announced the location of a new lactic acid and polylactic acid facility as part of their joint venture in the USA.

The planned location for the new production facilities will be in Decatur, Illinois, with a final investment decision expected next year, the companies said on 15 August.

LG Chem and ADM have formed two US joint ventures, with the first – GreenWise Lactic – producing up to 150,000 tonnes of high-purity corn-based lactic acid/year.

ADM said it would be the majority owner of GreenWise and would contribute fermentation capacity from its Decatur bioproducts facility to the venture.

The second joint venture, LG Chem Illinois Biochem, would be majority-owned by LG Chem. It would build on LG Chem’s expertise in bioplastics to build a facility that would use product from GreenWise Lactic to produce approximately 75,000 tonnes/year of polylactic acid (PLA), the joint statement said.

“With the establishment of this JV, LG Chem will not only procure production capacities for highly pure lactic acid needed for commercial-scale PLA production, but will also be able to apply biomaterials in the development of various high-value-added products,” LG Chem Chief Executive Officer Hak Cheol Shin said.

Pending final investment decisions and approvals, the companies said construction was due to begin in next year, with production starting in late 2025 or early 2026.

LG Chem is a leading global chemical company and is active in the petrochemicals, advanced materials, and life sciences sectors. The company manufactures a wide range of products from high-value added petrochemicals to renewable plastics, specialising in electronic and battery materials, as well as drugs and vaccines.

Global demand for lactic acid – which is used in the food, feed and cosmetics sectors in addition to industrials such as bioplastics – was valued at approximately US$2.9bn last year, with an expected annual growth rate of 8%. Global demand for bioplastics and biopolymers is projected to grow from US$10.7bn last year to US$29.7bn by 2026, representing a 22.7% year-on-year growth.