Orlando-Bioplastics supplier NatureWorks LLC (Minnetonka, MN) is partnering with outside firms to augment reclaim and recycling of its material in the U.S. and Europe, saying the partner businesses will offer a competitive price for post-consumer polylactic acid (PLA) scrap, according to president and CEO Marc Verbruggen. Addressing the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE) Global Plastics Environmental Conference (GPEC; March 8-10; Orlando), Verbruggen said that a new company called BIOCOR, of which NatureWorks is a minority shareholder, will offer an outlet to recyclers or others who have gathered small or large quantities of post-consumer PLA. BIOCOR will then use a hydrolysis process to chemically break down the bioresin to its component lactic acid base.
In Belgium, NatureWorks is collaborating with a company called Galactic, which manufactures and sells lactic acid, to use its LOOPLA recycling process to break down PLA. Galactic, which bills itself as the largest lactic acid producer in the world, is building a 1000-tonne lactic acid plant based on PLA feedstocks, collecting both post industrial and post-consumer Ingeo intermediates and finished products to feed its process. Verbruggen expects a U.S. plant to come online in the next 24-30 months.