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Industry giants Total and Corbion begin their journey to "support the future of bioplastics."

Posted on Mar 6, 2017 8:47:00 PM

In November you might rememtotal-min.jpgber a big announcement which took place in the bio-based industry. Two leaders in the field, Corbion and Total joined forces in a 50/50 joint venture to produce and market poly lactic acid (PLA) polymers. Energy company Total have been working with bio-based sustainable solution provider Corbion, to supply the lactic acid necessary for the production of the PLA and the lacitude. PLA is a bio-based and biodegradable polymer made from annually renewable resources. The latest news from the boardroom this week is that the Total Corbion partnership have officially launched its operations to produce and market PLA polymers.

The two partners ( @TotalCorbionPLA ) have built a PLA polymerisation plant with a capacity of 75,000 tons per year at Corbion's site in Thailand that already has a lactide (PLA monomer) production unit that will become part of the joint venture. PLA is a bio-based and biodegradable polymer made from annually renewable resources. As announced by parent companies Total and Corbion last November, the venture is based in the Netherlands. The polymer is derived from renewable resources such as corn (used in the US and Canada), tapioca roots, chips or starch (mostly in Asia), or sugarcane (in the rest of the world). In 2010, PLA had the second highest consumption volume of any bioplastic of the world.

The table below compares the common plastic Acrylonitrile-Butadiene-Styrene (ABS) used in our homes everyday with PLA.

Introduction to PLA and ABS properties:

Properties* ABS PLA
Tensile Strength** 27 MPa 37 MPa
Elongation 3.5 - 50% 6%
Flexural Modulus 2.1 - 7.6 GPa 4 GPa
Density 1.0 - 1.4 g/cm3 1.3 g/cm3
Melting Point N/A (amorphous) 173 ℃
Biodegradable No Yes, under the correct conditions
Glass Transition Temperature 105 ℃ 60 ℃
Spool Price*** (1kg, 1.75mm, black) $USD 21.99 $USD 22.99
Common Products LEGO, electronic housings Cups, plastic bags, cutlery


Stéphane Dion, newly appointed CEO of Total Corbion PLA, stated: “In the fast-growing bioplastics arena, our new company is committed to supplying a versatile and innovative material that is both bio-based and biodegradable, bringing added value to customers and contributing to a more sustainable world for ourselves and future generations.”

PLA is a fast-growing polymer market segment with an estimated annual growth rate of 10 to 15 per cent to 2025. Biodegradable and industrially compostable, PLA is one of the first renewable polymers able to compete with existing polymers, combining unique functional properties like transparency, gloss and stiffness. PLA is currently used in a broad range of markets, including food packaging, single-use tableware, textiles, oil and gas, electronics, automotive and 3D printing. Corbion’s existing lactide plant has been transferred into Total Corbion PLA, as well as the existing Corbion bioplastics commercial and technical teams, who will continue to market lactide and PLA resins and support current and future customers.

François de Bie, Total Corbion PLA’s Senior Marketing Director, commented: “The start-up of operations marks an important milestone for PLA, and our commercial and technical teams are delighted to have two strong parent companies supporting the future of bioplastics.”

For more chemical innovations taking place in bio-based industry:

Avantium collaborates with four industry experts to convert wood into a biochemical.

AkzoNobel collaborates with Itaconix to “explore opportunities” for bio-based polymers.

How is CO2 being used as a raw material for plastics?

$5.8 billion invested by VC’s in bio-based chemicals; focus shifts to disruptive synthetic biology.

Shipments of bio-based n-butanol and acetone now leaving Green Biologics first commercial plant.

Topics: BBWNChemicals, ProcessRefining&Plants

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About the Author

Emily O'Dowd
Emily O'Dowd
On graduating with a degree in English Literature at Royal Holloway University of London, Emily joined the editorial team. When she isn't writing articles for the website or interviewing experts in more