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Dow and Mitsui get green light for world’s largest Bioplastics plant

By Rory Harrington , 14-Nov-2011

Dow and Mitsui announced they have received all regulatory approvals for their joint venture to produce bioplastics for packaging from sugar cane derived ethanol.

The companies said the governmental green light meant that operations at the Brazilian plant would likely commence in the second quarter of 2013.

The firms said they will now press ahead with the deal which will see Mitsui and Co gain a 50% stake in Dow’s facility in Santa Vitoria, in the Minas Gera region of Brazil.

Drop-in replacements

The global companies previously unveiled plans to develop the site in the South American country to initially generate ethanol from cane, with technology to convert this into a range of conventional plastics scheduled to be fitted later.

At the time, Dow declined to confirm directly whether it would be producing conventional plastics such as polypropylene (PP) and polyethylene (PE). But a spokesman seemed to suggest this would be the case when he told FoodProductionDaily.com: “The biopolymers we plan to produce will be green alternatives and drop-in replacements for many of the products sold into these markets today”.

Once completed, the plant would be “the world's largest biopolymers play”, said a statement from the partners.

Dow said the venture would allow them to lessen their reliance on fossil fuel-based products while expanding their footprint in a key emerging market.

"The formation of this joint venture marks a historic next step in our drive to bring world-leading technology and sustainable solutions to one of the fastest-growing regions of the world," said Andrew N. Liveris, company chairman and CEO. "This move advances Dow's strategy and demonstrates our unwavering commitment to invest for growth in high-value, innovation-rich sectors through strategic partnerships."

Engineering and equipment assembly for the new sugarcane-to-ethanol production facility accelerated in the third quarter of 2011 and was on schedule to begin output before mid-2013.

D&W Fine Pack acquisition

In a separate development US-based company D&W Fine Pack said it had reached an agreement to take over CM Packaging Group (CMP).

Headquartered in Illinois, CMP has three business units that manufacture rigid plastic thermoformed containers and aluminium containers for the bakery, produce and food processor markets as well as the restaurant and grocery sectors.

Following the acquisition, D&W said its revenues would approach US$400m (€292m), employ 1,600 workers and operate from 11 locations in the US and Canada.

“Adding CM Packaging Group’s offerings to our substantial product suite allows us to present customers with greater choice and flexibility to meet evolving demands in the foodservice and food packaging markets,” said Mark Staton, D&W Fine Pack president and CEO.

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