BASF SE has announced plans for a significant expansion of its production plant for the biodegradable plastic Ecoflex® at the company’s Ludwigshafen site. The move will raise Ecoflex production capacities from the current 14,000 by 60,000 metric tons per year. Production at the expanded plant will commence in the third quarter of 2010.
Ecoflex is a petrochemicals-based plastic which has the properties of conventional polyethylene but is fully biodegradable in accordance with DIN EN 13432 requirements.
At the same time, BASF plans to increase production capacity of the compounding facility in Ludwigshafen where the newly developed product Ecovio® is manufactured. Ecovio, a derivative of Ecoflex, contains 45 percent by weight of the renewable raw material polylactic acid (PLA). The PLA content means Ecovio is not only biodegradable but also largely biobased. Polylactic acid is a material obtained from corn (maize).
The global market for biodegradable and biobased plastics is growing at more than 20 percent per year. “Ecoflex, our successful biodegradable polyester, and the innovation Ecovio are already giving us significant participation in this growing market. The new production capacities will substantially strengthen and consolidate our position,” said Dr. Michael Stumpp, head of BASF’s Specialty Polymers global business unit. “The expansion will also allow us to meet our customers’ needs even more effectively and will increase our delivery flexibility.”
As the supplier of the two polymer materials Ecovio and Ecoflex, BASF is already a global market leader in the area of biobased and biodegradable plastics. The materials are used to make carrier bags, compostable can liners, mulch film, food wrapping, and for other applications. Both properties – biodegradability and a high renewable raw material content – are increasingly sought after in the competitive global materials market.
(Cf. news from 2007-06-14.)
BASF AG, Pressemitteilung vom 2008-04-17.