Novamont launches new bioplastics plant to boost production

Italian bio-plastics company Novamont has opened its revamped Mater-Biopolymer plant to the south of Rome with a significantly boosted production capacity, going from from 120,000 to 150,000 tonnes per year.

The converted facility, which previously manufactured PET, will allow Novamont to increase its production of ORIGO–BI® renewable biopolyesters and MATER-BI® compostable bioplastics, which have been used to replace traditional plastics in products varying from coffee cups and carrier bags to cutlery and straws.

Novamont’s total investment in the facility, located in the town of Patrica, comes to €70 million (£61.9 million), which is set to rise to €100 million (£88.5 million) over the next three years. Some 90 people are employed at the 120,000m² site.

The company has also perfected a process for wastewater purification that will operate on the site to obtain tetrahydrofuran (THF) from renewable sources. THF is a chemical intermediate used by the pharmaceutical industry to produce antidepressants and hormone drugs. It will be the first industrially produced bio-THF.

Novamont launches new bioplastics plant to boost production
Novamont's new Mater-Biopolymer plant at Patrica, near Rome.

The new plant will help Novamont meet increased production requirements for its MATER-BI® carrier bags from retailers across Europe, including the UK’s Co-op, which recently announced a contract with Novamont to supply bio-based, compostable carrier bags in its stores. Other European retailers supplied by Novamont include Leclerc (France), Carrefour (France and Italy), Coop (Finland), Delhaize (Belgium) and Esselunga (Italy).

Commenting on the new plant, Catia Bastioli, Novamont's CEO, said: “Novamont's industrialisation efforts over the last few years have been enormous and have few equals anywhere in Europe. All in all, we must work together towards a regenerative approach to natural resources, which should be seen as a great opportunity to redesign our society on a sustainable basis with its roots in the land, more inclusively and contributively, where there is equal space for the big and the small. In all of this the world of agriculture and the soil and its preservation and regeneration are of vital importance.”

The conversion of the old plant has seen large swathes of the site upgraded to be able to use Novamont’s innovative technologies, which are capable of producing ORIGO-BI® biopolyesters from raw materials such as the bio-based monomers biobutandiol and azelaic acid in an increasingly sustainable, low-emission way.

The new plant forms part of Novamont’s local integrated biorefinery model, which has seen six interconnected reactivated sites, four proprietary technologies and a number of service plants capable of producing new products come online, providing a template for local regeneration and industrial development through the reutilisation of decommissioned infrastructure.

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