THAILAND – NatureWorks says its plan for a PLA manufacturing plant in Thailand is still proceeding, and explains its market strategy for Asia Pacific.
According to Steve Davies, NatureWorks’ Director of Marketing and Communications, while there has been some delay in completing PTT Global Chemicals (PTTGC)’s 50% stake acquisition of the US company, the planning of its second manufacturing plant is proceeding smoothly.
“The deal with PTT is not closed yet. There has been some delay and it’s not expected to close until May. But that has not held back our plan to build the second plant in Thailand,” said Davies in an interview with PackWebasia.com.
“The first phrase of the engineering design has been underway now for many months. We’re still targeting to have a plant in Thailand, online, by 2015.”
Davies also highlighted, “That would be a NatureWorks- owned and operated plant. It would not be run by PTT, which will be our 50% owner.”
NatureWorks’ market strategy for Asia
According to Davies, more than 50% of NatureWorks sales are exported, and more than one-third of that goes into the Asia Pacific – including countries such as Korea, Japan and Taiwan, which has a very large domestic market.
He noted that the US-headquartered bioplastics company isn’t so much as “moving” into the Asian market, but expanding it further.
When asked about its sales strategy for the region, Davies explained that NatureWorks is looking into sectors such as foodservice, and he sought to diminish the company’s perceived image as that of merely a biodegradable and compostable products business.
“Few of those markets are interested in composting and frankly, neither are we. We’re only interested in a compostable product where there is an organic diversion from landfill, such as foodservice ware,” said Davies.
“We sell into numerous markets – nonwoven, durable plastics, and foodservice ware. We’re not promoting or interested in compostability in most of those markets. We think compostability is a good fit into foodservice ware where the plastic cutlery gets contaminated with food. But mostly in the other markets it is not the preferred solution.
“We’re more interested in preserving the molecules, preserving the plastic we have created and we’re working to make sure it’s recycled.”
Davies noted the over-hype over biodegradable products: “Many people just talk about biodegradable plastics, but it’s a little too simple. It doesn’t make sense in many places and we’re more interested to see things recycled.
“That said, the state of recycling is not very good in some countries, where for example nothing is being recycled. We hope to change that by creating end markets for R-PLA (recycled PLA) and we think that when there are end markets, industry will start to short it out.”
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