Orlando, Fla. — Headquartered in the Netherlands, Total Corbion PLA, a 50-50 joint venture between parent companies Total SA and Corbion NV, has developed a portfolio of polylactic acid resins that the company is marketing under the Luminy brand name. The PLA grades offered run the gamut from standard to high-heat resistant resins that are suitable for use in a wide range of markets, from packaging to durable consumer goods and electronics.
NPE2018 in Orlando, May 7-11, gave Total Corbion PLA a showcase for a number of partner applications to illustrate the range of possibilities this biopolymer can offer. Fresh coffee was served to visitors in an Earth Smart industrially compostable PLA-lined cup from EcNow Tech. The cup's lining can withstand boiling water and represents a sustainable alternative to the traditional polyethylene-lined variety.
Other high-heat PLA applications were on display at the show, such as coffee capsules for Nespresso machines from ATI and takeout coffee cup lids from WinGram, among others.
Next to a number of standard PLA products, several more innovative applications were featured, including PLA toys, single-use aprons, thermoformed packaging made from PLA non-woven applications, toothbrushes and foamed PLA ice cream packaging from Synbra.
Established in 2017, Total Corbion PLA joins the small but growing ranks of PLA suppliers in the world. The PLA market, traditionally dominated by Minnetonka, Minn.-based NatureWorks LLC, is expanding fast as PLA increasingly gains acceptance among consumers and converters. Unlike NatureWorks, however, which uses corn as the feedstock to produce its resins, Total Corbion PLA produces its PLA grades from Bonsucro-certified sugarcane sourced from suppliers in Thailand. This certification guarantee that the biomass used to produce PLA was grown in accordance with the principles of sustainable agriculture.
The company is currently building an industrial-scale PLA production plant with a capacity of 75,000 metric tons per year in Rayong, Thailand, and is on track to deliver its first commercial quantities in the second half of 2018. The plant will produce a range of resins from the Luminy portfolio, including specially developed products for extrusion/thermoforming, injection molding and fiber spinning.
Meanwhile, Total Corbion PLA is providing premarketing resins to interested customers from its 1,000-metric-ton-per-year pilot plant, which went into production last year, in order to accelerate market acceptance of PLA. Furthermore, in order to service customers in a timely manner, the company has established a local warehouse in the United States to ensure short delivery times.