CJ Bio, a division of South Korea-based CJ CheilJedang specialised in the production of fermentation-based bioproducts, and NatureWorks, a leading producer of PLA, have signed a letter of intent (LOI) establishing a strategic alignment between the two organisations. The companies are now working toward a Master Collaboration Agreement (MCA), that will govern their collaboration on the development of sustainable materials solutions based on CJ Bio’s PHACT Marine Biodegradable Polymers and NatureWorks’ Ingeo biomaterials technology. Both companies realise the potential to further enhance performance and end-of-use solutions for biopolymers, and increase the level of adoption across the board. The goal of the agreement is therefore to develop high-performance biopolymers to replace fossil fuel-based plastics in applications ranging from compostable food packaging and food serviceware, to personal care, and beyond.
PLA has experienced significant growth in recent years. As one of the pioneers in this area, NatureWorks has developed many of the leading high-volume applications for PLA, which it markets under the Ingeo brand. CJ Bio recently announced commercial-scale production of PHA following the inauguration of a new production facility in Pasuruan, Indonesia, and is today the only company in the world producing amorphous PHA. The company just launched the first PHA product under its new PHACT brand, named PHACT A1000P.
The decision to combine the expertise and technology platforms of the two companies makes good sense.
“The demand for sustainable products continues to grow around the world… As we look toward the future, we want to amplify the impact of our Ingeo technology with promising, new bio-based solutions, and we feel that with its PHACT aPHA technology, CJ Bio is an ideal partner to achieve our goal,” said NatureWorks’ CEO Rich Altice.
Very promising results have already been shown when using CJ Bio’s unique amorphous PHA in combination with Ingeo biopolymer.
Amorphous PHA is a softer, more rubbery version of PHA that offers fundamentally different performance characteristics than crystalline or semi-crystalline forms of PHA. It is certified biodegradable under industrial compost, soil (ambient), and marine environments. Modifying PLA with amorphous PHA leads to improvements in mechanical properties, such as toughness, and ductility, while maintaining clarity. It also allows adjustment in the biodegradability of PLA and can potentially lead to a home compostable product.
“Plastics are an essential material that improves people’s lives, but their fossil sourcing and after-use impact present a major climate challenge that must be addressed,” says Seung Jin Lee, head of the Biomaterials Business at CJ Bio. “NatureWorks and its Ingeo technology have already helped by bringing to market new material functionality and after-use options. They have extensive product and applications development capability, supporting, for example flexible and rigid packaging that we believe can benefit from our PHACT amorphous PHA technology.”