Belgian bioplastics manufacturer Futerro has announced plans to establish Europe's first vertically integrated biorefinery in Normandy, France for the production and recycling of polylactic acid, or PLA.
The company already operates a PLA plant in China, which went into operation in October 2020.
That first plant has a capacity of 30,000 tons/year and is supplied by a lactic acid unit with an annual capacity of 80,000 tons. The other 50,000 tons are supplied to a sister company producing food ingredients based on lactic acid for the Asian market.
Futerro, a subsidiary of the Belgian Galactic Group, has selected the industrial and port area of Port-Jérôme, in the Caux Seine agglomeration (commune of Saint-Jean-de-Folleville), located on the Seine axis between Rouen and Le Havre, as the location for this second plant.
The aim is to develop what the company describes as a ‘new generation’ vertically integrated biorefinery, boasting an annual production capacity of 75,000 tons. The project will create an estimated 250 direct jobs and 900 jobs in adjacent sectors.
Futerro is already in negotiations with Caux-Seine Agglo and its economic development agency Caux-Seine Développement about a plot, after having considered and rejected various other sites for the project.
“We very much appreciated the way in which the local authorities and elected representatives helped us to study the location of our project in the port area of Port Jérôme,” said Frédéric Van Gansberghe, CEO of Futerro.
The company was pursuaded by a number of factors, including the fact that this was a large industrial site offering possibilities for future expansion; the availability of low-carbon energy resources, agricultural raw materials and a pool of talent with technical skills relevant to the chemical and polymer sectors; the interest and experience of local public and private actors in supporting large-scale projects for the sustainable re-industrialisation of the region; and finally, good logistics, including access to the waterway, offered by the Radicatel terminal and the port of Le Havre.
"Normandy is an industrial region. This is confirmed every day by the announcements of industrial projects such as Futerro. Nevertheless, beyond the figures of industrial jobs created or the share of industrial added value in Normandy's GDP, I note that the development model that we advocate makes sense to business leaders,” declared Hervé Morin, President of the Normandy region.
This project is perfectly in line with the European Green Deal policy, the development of the circular economy and the decarbonization strategy of the French government and the European Union. It will enable the Normandy basin, historically oriented towards petrochemicals, to become the first major player in green chemistry, thus accelerating the transition from fossil carbon to carbon from biomass.
"A true pioneer of the circular economy on the Seine Axis in Normandy, Caux Seine agglo has made the decarbonization of its industry sector one of its priorities. With its Port Jérôme industrial zone, the agglomeration has created a space dedicated to a virtuous industrial ecosystem: the establishment of the Futerro project in the commune of Saint-Jean-de-Folleville once again confirms the attractiveness and resilience of the community in its approach to economic development, as well as its leading position in the circular economy and green chemistry,” added Virginie Carolo-Lutrot, President of Caux Seine agglo.
Futerro has taken an option on a 26.5 hectare-plot and has begun the ecological and environmental analysis procedures on site. In 2023, the project will also be the subject of a preliminary consultation.