Despite delays in completing the 50% acquisition of the US company by PTT Global Chemicals (PTTGC), 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, “The (acquisition) deal with PTTGC is not closed yet. There has been some delay and it’s not expected to close until end May. But that has not held back our plan to build the second plant in Thailand.” And continues: “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.” 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 to shake-off the company’s image as just 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.”
“We sell into numerous markets – nonwoven, durable plastics, and foodservice ware. We’re not promoting, or interested in compostability, in most of Asian markets. Compostability is a good fit for food service ware where plastic cutlery gets contaminated with food. But mostly in the other markets it is not the preferred solution. We are 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. And we know 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.”