Upscale of PHBH in Japan to 20,000 t/y / Biodegradable polymer
Japanese high-end plastics producer Kaneka (Tokyo; www.kaneka.co.jp) is investing JPY 15 bn (around EUR 115 mn) to expand production of its biodegradable copolymer PHBH, marketed as Green Planet, at its site in Taksago, Japan. The upgrade of 15,000 t/y to be completed by January 2024 will lift capacity to 20,000 t/y. The company has operated a 5,000 t/y pilot plant for the polymer at the site since 2019 (see Plasteurope.com of 30.10.2019).

Total worldwide consumption of PHBH, used to make drinking straws, cutlery, coffee capsules, bags, and films, stands at about 5 mn t/y. Kaneka said it believes the biomass-based polymer made by microorganism biosynthesis using plant oils has worldwide potential to replace roughly 25 mn t of traditional single-use plastic products per year. As Germany’s federal environment agency Umweltbundesamt (www.bundesumweltamt.de) verified in a 2018 study, the polymer biodegrades easily in natural environments, including marine waters, and is also recyclable through composting.

Reflecting global moves to combat plastics pollution, the company said it additionally has plans to build up capacity in Europe and North America, where demand for biodegradables is also rising. It estimates business potential for what will be one of its future core products to be in the range “of hundreds of thousands of tonnes.” Since 2019, Green Planet has been approved for contact use in Japan, Europe and the US.

In the expanded production facility, the Japanese producer said it hopes to leverage process innovation to further develop new products, promote productivity improvement and reduce production costs. If the experience of manufacturers of related product PHA is any indication, the challenges will not be small. PHA producers Bio-on (Bologna; www.bio-on.it) as well as Metabolix (Cambridge, Massachusetts; www.metabolix.com) have found product development to be expensive and difficult.
15.02.2022 Plasteurope.com [249627-0]
Published on 15.02.2022
Kaneka: Kommerzielle Erzeugung des Biopolymers PHBHGerman version of this article...

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