Total Corbion PLA: sustainable, biodegradable and innovative polymers

With a production capacity of 75,000 tons per year, this state-of-the-art plant produces PLA: a 100% biobased and biodegradable polymer made from plant materials.

Stéphane Dion: Building a world-scale plant in a fairly recent industry. 

Simon Goldney: What makes me excited about PLA is that the number of applications is virtually limitless. 

Sander van der Linden: We anticipate the success of PLA. We think it is a great product. 

[Stéphane Dion, CEO - Total Corbion PLA]

Stéphane Dion: PLA, or Polylactic Acid, is a bioplastic polymer made from 100% bio-based feedstock. It is plant-based and entirely renewable and it's a polymer that is also biodegradable. 

[Sander van der Linden, Lactic Acid Plant Director - Corbion]

Sander van der Linden: If you look at the Total Corbion PLA joint-venture, Corbion is the biggest lactic acid producer in the world, so they bring that as a starting point for PLA. Total brings in the knowledge for producing polymers and selling it on the market. And that, together, will make a successful combination. 

Stéphane Dion: It is completely in line with Total's ambition to develop in petrochemicals, which enjoy a very strong demand, and this is going to last, while also innovating in low-carbon solutions and contributing to reducing the end-of-life questions. 

[Simon Goldney, Directeur de l’usine de lactide et de PLA Total Corbion PLA]

Simon Goldney: We have a highly qualified team on-site. Most of the people that work here are Thai and they are graduate-level or above. I have a very high level of respect for our teams. They're very committed to working on PLA. 

[Nittaya Khamma, Quality Assurance and Quality Control manager - Total Corbion PLA]

Nittaya Khamma: They believe in PLA as a polymer. Luminy is the brand name of the PLA produced under Total Corbion PLA. My responsibility is to ensure the quality of our product aligns with Luminy's specifications and aligns with the customers' requirements. We have produced ten grades already at the Total Corbion PLA Rayong site. 

Stéphane Dion: The main applications for PLA so far have been in the packaging industry, for food packaging especially, and this is largely due to the extra end-of-life solutions that PLA offers when compared with traditional polymers. For example, coffee capsules and plastic bags offer a great end-of-life opportunity. The PLA market is currently estimated at roughly 150,000 tons a year. With a production capacity here of 75,000, that brings the overall capacity in the world to more than 200,000. This is one third that Total Corbion PLA has the ambition to represent within a few years. 

Sander van der Linden: This site is capable of growing significantly, to keep in pace with PLA growth and demand. We are looking forward to this expansion. That is a challenge. A positive challenge.

Simon Goldney: I would say the next step for this project is to continue to credibilize bioplastics. 

Stéphane Dion: Now that our plant is up and running, keeping our continuous focus on safety, and optimizing production while improving the plant's efficiency, with high-quality PLA and PDLA products, but also developing new applications for this very versatile polymer.
 

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