Cargill – full owner of NatureWorks

The green blog is actually on hiatus due to work deadlines and school exams but I just need to report this news about US agribusiness player Cargill buying back full ownership of bioplastic company NatureWorks from former joint owner (50%) Teijin, a Japanese chemical company.

For a brief background, NatureWorks was established in 1997 and operated as a Teijin-Cargill 50:50 joint venture since October 2007. The company produces its Ingeo biopolymer at a polylactic acid (PLA) manufacturing facility in Nebraska, with an annual capacity of 140,000 tons. NatureWorks is currently looking to build another facility outside the US.

Teijin said it is currently restructuring its business portfolio in response to the global economic downturn, and made the decision to sell back NatureWorks to Cargill so it can focus to its Biofront heat-resistant PLA-based plastic.

I guess there’s competition going on in there somewhere…

In my recently released bioplastic article from ICIS Chemical Business, Teijin’s Hideshi Kurihara, general manager, high-performance biomaterials project, said that the company aims to produce 5,000 tonns of Biofront in 2011.

A 1,000 ton/year PLA facility in Ehime prefecture, which Teijin acquired from compatriot carmaker Toyota last year, is expected to produce Biofront this summer. The new plant’s capacity has yet to be confirmed, says Karihara. Teijin is producing 200 tons of the bioplastic at its pilot plant in Yamaguchi prefecture.

Back to NatureWorks, Cargill officials said the business will operate as as an independent, wholly owned Cargill entity. Ingeo fibers and plastics are already used by over 100 brands & retailers in the United States, Europe, and Asia.

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