Bioplastics giant shortlists Thailand for first Asian plant

Bioplastics giant shortlists Thailand for first Asian plant Bangkok  - US-based Natureworks LLC, the world's largest producer of bioplastics, has shortlisted four countries - Thailand, China, Malaysia and Singapore - for a 100-million-dollar plant in Asia, news reports said Saturday.

Marc Verbruggen, president of the Minneapolis-based company, was in Bangkok recently to assess Thailand's potential as a base for its Asia plant which is expected to start operations in 2014.

"It is too early for us to tell where to establish the new plant, because the decision will depend on how soon the global economy can recover, but Thailand is very interesting since it is one of the few countries in the world that grow plenty of sugar cane and tapioca, which will help us secure the feedstock," Verbruggen told The Nation newspaper.

Natureworks' US plant has an annual production capacity of 140,000 tons of bioplastics, accounting for 90 per cent of the current global supply.

Bioplastics, made from renewable biomass sources such as vegetable oil or starch, compete with petroleum-based plastics, which are now benefiting from low oil prices.

Verbruggen said the long-term outlook for bioplastics was positive because more consumers are interested in ecological products, and prices would be competitive again if oil prices rise above 80 dollars a barrel, compared with 50 dollars at present.

He acknowledged that Thailand's political situation, marred by more than a year of street protests, was a factor in deciding where to site the plant.

"But we observe the situation not only in Thailand but also other countries like China," Verbruggen said. (dpa)

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