“We are determined to pursue the commercialisation of FDCA and PEF – with or without BASF”
The bio-plastics industry has suffered a potential blow after chemicals giant BASF announced that it had threatened to pull out of its Synvina joint venture (JV) with Dutch renewable chemicals company Avantium over a disagreement on an investment deadline for the project. At the core of the JV is a focus on producing and marketing FDCA (furandicarboxylic acid) as well as the marketing of new polymer PEF (polyethylenefuranoate) based on this chemical building block.
The companies disagree about the deadline for a timetable of investments for the JV, which aims to build a FDCA reference plant producing 50,000 tonnes of the chemical per year at BASF’s Verbund site in Antwerp, Belgium.
The FDCA is intended to be used in the production of PEF, which can be applied to many sectors including the food packaging, textile fibres, and automotive industry.
According to a statement from Avantium published 15th October, BASF has served a notice to Avantium that it could pull out from the JV if the company does not meet investment criteria by 5th December 2018.
Avantium said it disagreed with BASF over the December deadline and said it was of the opinion that when an agreement was extended by two to three years in January 2018, the deadlines would automatically be moved up.
Synvina was established in 2016 to produce the FDCA substance on a commercial scale using fructose from sugarcane, corn and wheat, using the YXY process developed by Avantium.
The goal of the cooperation platform was to develop a complete supply chain for PEF as sustainable bio-based packaging material and build up buyer confidence.
When BASF and Avantium announced that it was forming Synvina, the bio-plastics industry welcomed the announcement, as it showed that large organisations like BASF were backing bio-chemicals.
The recent news that BASF may pull out of the JV is set to cause dismay within the bio-chemicals industry, as the sector is convinced that alliances like this make bio-based products far more likely to be utilised and deployed by large consumer brands.
A BASF spokeswoman told Bio-Based World News: “Avantium and BASF are currently consulting on how to continue their joint venture Synvina, founded in 2016 and headquartered in Amsterdam.”
“The consultations relate, among others, to the fulfilment of criteria to invest in a reference plant for the production of FDCA. The outcome of the consultations is open. In the meantime, the joint venture continues to operate as before” ,added BASF.
In a strongly worded statement about the news, Tom van Aken, CEO at Avantium, expressed surprise at BASF’s position stating: “Synvina is actually ahead of the timeline for resolving the technical challenges that led to the postponement announced in January.”
He added: “The work done to date has strengthened our belief in the YXY technology. We are determined to purse the commercialisation of FDCA and PEF -with or without BASF.”
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