The company said keen market interest in BoPLA had been a driver in its decision to diversify and that its entry would serve to underpin market confidence in the bioplastics segment. The Dubai-based firm said its natural film range would be based on NatureWorks PLA (polylactic acid) polymers marketed under the trade name Ingeo - manufactured from 100 per cent plant materials.
“The interest and expectations on BoPLA are very high and we are keeping in close contact with all the important players in this segment,” a Ti spokesman told FoodProductionDaily.com. “Everybody is glad that, finally, a strong producer like Ti is investing in bioplastic. This is providing the market the necessary confidence that its needs will now be properly met. On our side we are now launching a BoPLA film testing process. As a reliable film producer, we want to see that process completed, before signing any ‘deal’.”
The company will be modifying an existing line at its Italian site to facilitate BoPLA production, said European CEO Valerio Garzitto. “We will launch our new BoPLA product range in the fourth quarter this year and will offer a film portfolio of different thicknesses and aesthetical appearances to meet customers’ requirements.”
Ti confirmed the investment to make this happen would run into “several million Euros”, which it hopes to complete by the end of September 2010. Initial capacity would be 4,000 t/a – around 1.5 per cent of its global BoPP capacity. This “fits perfectly to the bioplastic market needs for the time being”, said the company spokesman. If the market reacts as Ti expects, there could be “some additional” BoPLA investment by the company in the “near future”, he added.
The new films, which are compostable and biodegradable according to European standard EN13432, will be available for use across a range of sectors including fresh produce, bakery, dairy or confectionery. They will also complement existing bioplastic packaging, added Garzitto.
In line with Ti’s investment in Research and Development, a strong and professional technical team has already been positioned to work closely with customers to develop the best bio-based solutions tailored for their market. Ti said the BoPLA group would be assigned to R&D, sales and marketing, as well as after sales assistance.
“We are happy to have partnered with such a committed player like Ti. We are confident that their expertise in the packaging film market will support the continuous growth and the acceptance of BoPLA films, which will drive the change to more sustainable packaging.” said Mark Vergauwen, European Commercial Director of NatureWorks LLC.