Technological watch

Futerro to build PLA biorefinery in France

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 opened in October 2020.

That first plant has a capacity of 30,000 metric tons per year and is supplied by a lactic acid unit with an annual capacity of 80,000 tonnes. The other 50,000 tonnes 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, 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 tonnes. The project will create an estimated 250 direct jobs and 900 jobs in adjacent sectors.

Futerro is already in negotiations with the local government 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 Futerro CEO Frédéric Van Gansberghe.

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-industrialization of the region; and finally, good logistics, including access to the waterway, offered by the Radicatel terminal and the port of Le Havre.

This project fits in with the European Green Deal policy, the development of the circular economy and the decarbonization strategy of the French government and the European Union, local leaders said. 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.

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.

Publication date: 19/12/2022

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This project has been co-funded with the support of the LIFE financial instrument of the European Union [LIFE17 ENV/ES/000438] Life programme

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Last update: 2022-01-31