Brazil Pedra to build sugarcane bioplastics plant by 2012

24 November 2009 22:19  [Source: ICIS news]

RIBEIRAO PRETO (ICIS news)--Brazilian sugarcane and ethanol producer Pedra Agroindustrial plans to start commercial bioplastics production by late 2012, a company official said on Tuesday.

The company plans to build the world`s first sugarcane-based bioplastics facility with a capacity of between 35,000-40,000 tonnes/year, said Pedra administrator Eduardo de Oliveira Brondi.

The plastic, poly-3-hydroxybuyrate (PHB), which is compostable, is suited for niche applications such as throw-away products like plastic utensils, as well as cosmetics packaging and potentially medical products, he said at a media event in Ribeirao Preto, Sao Paolo state.

The PHB plastic can also be mixed with other biopolymers, Brondi added.

"We are in talks with universities and companies to develop this bioplastic and introduce it on a commercial scale in three years," he said.

The cost of the plant, whose location has yet to be announced, will be "somewhat less than $300m [€201m]," Brondi said.

"We are looking for a partner to help us go to market. This could mean a joint venture in operations and distribution. Right now we have no access to the European and Asian markets," he added.

Pedra plans to produce the PHB bioplastic directly from sucrose, using a natural bacteria found in the sugarcane plant, and an ethanol solvent.

The company currently produces ethanol from sugarcane, with ethanol capacity of 425m litres/year.

"We are developing this bioplastic to deliver another value-added product and diversify," said Brondi.

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By: Joseph Chang
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