Eni-Novamont builds biorefinery in Italy

The blog just recently mentioned Italy as a growing hotspot for bioplastic investments and less than a day after that, Italian bioplastic producer Novamont announced that it has partnered with Eni subsidiary Polimeri Europa for a joint venture, which will build and manage a EUR500m ($704m) biorefinery at the Porto Torres petrochemical facility in Italy.

Novamont already mentioned late last year its plans to expand its bioplastic production capacity from 80,000 tonnes/year to 150,000 tonnes/year. This latest announcement will not only include a new bioplastic plant but also facilities to produce bio-monomers, bio-lubricants and bio-intermediates/additives as well as bio-fillers for elastomers. The companies did not disclose how much capacity the new bioplastic plant and the overall biorefinery will have. They also did not mention any timeframe for the biorefinery projects.

Novamont said its contribution to the JV is to provide its proprietary technologies for the design, building and operation of the new facilities. Eni will provide the site, the infrastructures and skilled labour.

Some background on Novamont, the company recently set up a new US company based in Danbury, CT, in order to expand its bioplastic business in North America. In a presentation held last year in December at the 5th European Bioplastics conference in Germany, a company official mentioned (via ICIS news*) plans to start-up a new bioplastic plant somewhere in Italy by the end of 2012 or early 2013.

 The official also noted at the conference that Novamont would produce 25,000 tonnes/year of fatty acids which can be used to produce monomers for the new biopolymer capacity. The bioplastic facility was expected to use vegetable oils and corn starch from local agriculture.

On a bioplastic article I wrote last year in March, Novamont mentioned that it was investing EUR50m in a new vegetable oil-based monomers plant in Caserta, Italy, which is expected to start this year. Not sure if this monomers plant still went through or if this will now be part of the Porto Torres Green Centre.

Novamont said its new second generation Mater-Bi bioplastic, which was launched more than a year ago contains starch-based bioplastic with vegetable oil-based polyesters.

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