PHILIPPINES – Domestic sugar giant Central Azucarera de la Carlota (CAC) is exploring possibilities of producing bioplastics from sugarcane.
CAC recently signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the University of the Philippines in Los Banos and granted the university a P7.5 million (US$167,703) endowment fund for research and development initiatives in the sugar industry and bioplastics production.
It is also in talks for a similar agreement with the University of Saint La Salle in Bacolod City.
According to the company, conducting such research and development will allow CAC to diversify its business so as to not be solely reliant on sugar production and sales.
Archimedes Amarra, CAC’s president and chief operating officer, said, “To be able to survive we should not be dependent on sugar alone as our source of revenue.
“We’re looking at a wide product range as far as sugarcane is concerned,” he said. “We hope to increase productivity and explore the other potentials of sugar cane with our partnership with UPLB."
Sugar Regulatory Administrator Ma. Regina Bautista is pushing for more sugarcane mills in the country to go into the production of bioplastics as an additional way to boost earnings.
Bautista pointed out that Brazil and Thailand are also producing bioplastics from sugarcane, and highlighted the huge global market potential for bioplastics.
In the Philippines, there are already currently 21 sugarcane-based biomass projects registered with the Department of Energy with a total capacity of 297.47 megawatts. According to Bautista - who is also National Biofuels Board vice chairperson on bioethanol concerns and Department of Agriculture representative to the National Renewable Energy Board - the potential power generation capacity of the entire milling sector if fully developed is 540 megawatts.