One of the first announced customers for Braskem’s sugar-derived polyethylene will be Procter & Gamble, once itself an important player in bioplastics. The bio-PE will be used in selected packaging on Pantene Pro-V, Covergirl and Max Factor brands.
The pilot will be rolled out globally over the next two years, with the first products expected to be on shelf in 2011. The high-density polyethylene is not biodegradable, has identical properties to the plastic it replaces, and is recyclable. Brazilian sugar cane is used to produce ethanol, which is one small chemical step from ethylene. The price premium for the new Brazilian PE is estimated at more than 30%,
Braskem is in the process of launching its new Brazilian PE plant now. Eventual theoretical capacity is 200,000 metric tons/yr, but it may take a while to reach that level. The first announced customer is Toyota, which will take one-quarter of the plant’s annual output.
P&G originally developed and later sold the right to P(3HB-co-3HHx) medium-branch chain di-copolymer, a bioplastic called Nodax.
Dow and Crystalsev are building a plant to produce polyethylene from sugar cane with a capacity of 350,000 metric tons annually. Startup is anticipated in 2011.