Global polylactic acid (PLA) biopolymer manufacturer NatureWorks is set to go ahead with a new plant in Thailand, the company announced on 9 August.

The move followed approval from NatureWorks’ parent companies - GC International Corporation Company Limited, a subsidiary of PTT Global Chemical Public Company Limited (GC), and Cargill Incorporated, the firm said.

“This authorisation was an important milestone that ensures we will be ready to begin construction in 2022 on an integrated manufacturing complex that will help us address the increasing global market demand for sustainable materials,” NatureWorks president and CEO Rich Altice said.

NatureWorks said the new US$600M facility, which would include lactic acid, lactide and polymer manufacturing sites, would have a 75,000 tonnes/year capacity of Ingeo biopolymer and would produce the full portfolio of Ingeo grades.

Construction of the new manufacturing complex at the Nakhon Sawan Biocomplex (NBC) in Nakhon Sawan province would begin in the second quarter of next year and was due for completion in 2024, the company said.

NatureWorks started producing PLA biopolymers at commercial scale in 2002 and, in 2013, extended its flagship facility in Blair, Nebraska, to150,000 tonnes/year. This was followed by further expansion in 2020.

The company’s range of renewably-sourced polymers and chemicals includes its Ingeo brand of biopolymers, which are used in products such as compostable coffee capsules, tea bags, flexible packaging, disposal cutlery and 3D printing filaments.

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.