By: Frank Esposito
March 3, 2014
Bioplastics firm Novamont SpA has acquired a majority stake in Mater-Biopolymer srl, a unit of PET resin maker Grupo Mossi & Ghisolfi that operates a resin plant in Lazio, Italy.
Novara, Italy-based Novamont now will own 78 percent of Mater-Biopolymer, including the 83-employee Lazio plant. The plant will work exclusively for Novamont and M&G, with one line producing PET for M&G and another making Origo-Bi, a line of renewably sourced polyesters.
Origo-Bi is used to improve the characteristics of Novamont’s Mater-Bi biodegradable and compostable bioplastics. The Origio-Bi production line has been modified over the last four years using proprietary Novamont technology, officials said in a March 3 news release.
Novamont now has an option to buy the remainder of Mater-Biopolymer by the end of 2016. Officials said that the plant — known as the Patrica plant — had become too small for the economies of scale of M&G’s PET production, but was an ideal size for Novamont. After the technological conversion, including the second production line, the plant “will be perfectly suited” to large-scale production of Origo-Bi, they added.
Novamont “has extensive experience in the field of bioplastics, and will give new impetus to the site, creating jobs and competitive barriers and enhancing existing research skills in the areas of materials, process engineering and innovation in general,” officials said.
When work is completed, the plant will have annual capacity of about 220 million pounds of Origo-Bi. Novamont also operates a plant in Terni, Italy, with more than 100 million pounds of annual capacity for Mater-Bi. The 25-year-old firm employs 320 and has annual sales of about $175 million.
Novamont’s biodegradable materials are used for film and foam, and in extrusion, thermoforming and injection molded products. Industrial applications for Mater-Bi are in agriculture, hygiene, organic-food packaging, food service, and as additives in rubber.
“At such a challenging time for our country, the bioeconomy sector and chemicals from renewable sources in particular are of proven strategic importance for economic recovery and creating value for the whole country,” Novamont CEO Catia Bastoli said.
“With today’s operation and with the range of operations we have completed in recent months … Novamont is proving it is possible to create an economic and environmental model capable of re-industrialising the region, reusing skills and facilities and recreating jobs.,” he added.
M&G CEO Marco Chisolfi added that officials at his Tortona, Italy-based firm “are pleased that the technological collaboration with Novamont is leading to the creation of flexible sites like Patrica, suited to the production of polymers with high sustainability.”
The Patrica project “fits with our group’s other activities, in particular through our affiliated companies Biochemtex and Beta Renewables, which offer the chance to reconvert other industrial sites in Italy to sustainable technologies,” he added.
In North America, M&G is planning to build a massive 2.2 billion-pound capacity PET plant in Corpus Christi, Texas. That plant is expected to be online by the end of 2016.