Sustainable materials firm Origin Materials plans to build a major plant-based PET feedstock plant in Louisiana.
West Sacramento, Calif.-based Origin will spend at least $750 million to build the plant in Geismar, officials said in a Feb. 16 news release. The plant will use sustainable wood residue — sourced partly from Louisiana's timber mills and managed forests — to make PET feedstock for packaging, textiles, apparel and other applications. Hydrothermal carbon, which can be used in fuel pellets, also will be produced at the site.
The plant will use Origin's patented technology, which reduces the carbon emitted during production of widely used products ranging from food and beverage containers to parts for the auto industry. The project will create 200 direct jobs, as well as almost 900 indirect jobs and around 500 construction jobs. The plant's annual production capacity wasn't included in the release.
The plant called Origin 2 will use sustainable wood residue that will be sourced partly from Louisiana's timber mills and managed forests to produce its four chemical building blocks: chloromethyl furfural (CMF) and hydrothermal carbon (HTC), as well as furfural and levulinic acid. CMF is a raw material for many chemistries, including para-xylene, purified terephthalic acid (PTA), and polyethylene terephthalate (PET); HTC can be used, among other things, in fuel pellets and for the production of carbon black.
In an email to Plastics News, Origin officials said that the proposed plant would convert more than 2 billion pounds of wood residues per year into products for a wide range of end markets. They declined to disclose how much plant-based PET resin feedstocks would be made at the plant annually.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said in the release that Origin's "unique process of developing PET products from renewable wood fibers is yet another example of how the global shift toward sustainability can be a catalyst for economic investment and job creation in our state."
Construction is set to begin in mid-2023, with mechanical completion and operation by mid-2025.
"The demand for net zero-enabling materials is extremely strong, and we believe this plant will be instrumental in addressing demand for our products in the United States and internationally," Origin co-founder and co-CEO John Bissell said.
He added that local labor talent "is world-class across refining, forestry and agronomy, feedstock logistics and chemicals" and that the site "sits along the Mississippi River with easy access to barge and rail and plentiful local wood residue feedstock."
Louisiana is offering Origin a $6 million performance-based award to be paid out over six years, to reimburse site infrastructure costs. The company is also expected to use the state's Quality Jobs and Industrial Tax Exemption programs, as well as working with the LED FastStart workforce development program.
Origin was founded in 2008 and has partnered with leading consumer brands including Danone, Nestle Waters and PepsiCo Inc. as well as Ford Motor Co. and global chemical firms in producing recyclable, plant-based PET plastic consumer products. The firm operates a pilot plant in West Sacramento and is building a commercial plant in Sarnia, Ontario.
In February 2021, Origin went public with Artius Acquisition Inc., a special-purpose acquisition company, in a deal that valued the combined company at approximately $1.8 billion. Origin received up to $925 million in that deal, including investments from Danone, Nestle Waters, PepsiCo and Mitsubishi Gas Chemical.
In the first nine months of 2021, Origin posted a profit of almost $37 million. The firm had lost almost $7 million in that same period in 2020.
On Wall Street, Origin's per-share stock price debuted near $13 in February 2021 but was near $5.50 in late trading Feb. 17.