InterviewCHINAPLAS ’13: NatureWorks Asia PLA unit to start up in '16

23 May 2013 09:23  [Source: ICIS news]

By Chow Bee Lin

GUANGZHOU (ICIS)--NatureWorks is aiming to start up its new polylactic acid (PLA) resins plant in Asia by 2016, a senior company official said on Thursday.

The focus of the company’s expansion plan is in Asia, where it expects to continue growing, Richard Weber, commercial director for the Asia-Pacific region at NatureWorks, told ICIS.

Currently, about 30% of the company’s sales are generated from Asia, with the bulk derived from Taiwan, Japan, South Korea and China, Weber said on the sidelines of Chinaplas 2013.

NatureWorks is also actively developing the southeast Asian markets, he said.

North America accounts for about 50% of the company’s sales, while Europe has a 20% share, he added.

NatureWorks, a 50-50 joint venture between PTT and Cargill, has been trying to pin down the exact location of the proposed new plant since 2010.

The producer is expected to take a decision on the location in the second half of the year, said Weber.

There are many factors to consider when investing in a new plant, said Frank Diodato, global head for durables at NatureWorks.

“We certainly learnt a lot when we built our first plant ... a lot of the challenges would be handled more efficiently this time. It’s not easy… making PLA is not an easy process,” said Diodato.

NatureWorks has an existing plant in Nebraska, US.

Asia’s PLA demand is projected to grow at 20-25% from now till 2015, said Weber.

Having other PLA producers supplying to Asia will help drive demand growth in this region because end-users are usually more receptive to adopting a new raw material when there are multiple sources, he said.

Chinaplas, Asia’s largest plastics raw material and machinery exhibition, runs on 20-23 May.

By: Chow Bee Lin
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