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Is Novamont’s new production plant a step towards 100{8b0f3a7b3eacfe1804507280dbfc7f5f2ba1d5417cdd881cfa7a48d820f01dd7} renewable materials?

One of the world’s leading bioeconomy companies, Novamont, has opened the world’s first production plant for biological butanediol (BDO) on an industrial scale derived directly from sugars using bacteria. It might sound like technical details, but Novamont’s latest innovation could enable the production of materials like bioplastics from 100% renewable sources.

BDO is a crucial chemical used to produced a range of materials including plastics and elastic fibres. The global market is enormous – currently two million tonnes per annum, and traditionally it is manufactured from fossil fuel sources. However, Novamont’s ‘world-first’ industrial-scale fermentation facility will create 30,000 tonnes of substance from 100,000 tonnes of sugars made initially from crops like corn and rice.

Credit: Novamont
Credit: Novamont

Novamont is one of the larger producers of bioplastics in the world. Their MaterBi compostable bioplastics product is currently made from 31% renewable content, which they predict will rise to 64% with the opening of this new plant. Furthermore, a CO2 reduction of at least 50% is predicted as a result of the new plant.

The ability to produce BDO from renewable resources and to use that new intermediate in MaterBi is just one part of a bigger bioeconomy vision for Novamont.

“Mater-Biotech is just one facet of a system of world leader, interconnected plants to be seen as a formdiable accelerator, a way of multiplying opportunities in the bioplastics and chemical fields for the producers of raw materials, for the producers of finished products, for new entrepreneurial initiatives, for the creation of jobs”.

Catia Bastioli, CEO, Novamont

While the need to transition from an economy powered by fossil fuels to one powered by renewables is frequently spoken and written about, the strain on fossil fuels from material production isn’t as widely recognised. No new technology or process comes without questions, in this case for example, there may be concerns about land usage in terms of materials bio-sourced from corn and rice crops. However, this latest announcement helps to build on the increasing evidence that Novamont’s holistic approach and vision for bioeconomy is producing positive results for material innovation more broadly, opening up more opportunities in the market and larger economy.

Source: Novamont

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Seb Egerton-Read

Seb Egerton-Read

Seb writes daily content for Circulate across the full spectrum of the website's topics. Previously he has spent five years as a freelance writer for a number of websites and blogs. You can e-mail Seb at seb[at]

1 Comment

  1. November 21, 2016 at 2:17 pm — Reply

    The article correctly identifies the challenge associated with overuse of materials derived even from biological sources – while they are in principle renewable, there are sustainable rates of use that need to be respected. Switching from petroleum based plastics to bioplastics should not result in an increase in use because people feel they are being green

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