Avantium announced after trading hours on Thursday that its long-awaited bioplastic factory will finally be built. After the chemical company has already convinced several customers and suppliers, the financing has now also been completed. This means that nothing stands in the way of the arrival of a new production location in Delfzijl.
Construction will start next year. In 2024, the Amsterdam listed chemical company hopes to be able to produce its first plastic for the packaging industry from sugar from wood chips and residual wood. Today, this plastic is still made from petroleum.
CEO Tom van Aken speaks of a ‘historic moment’. “It is a huge breakthrough that we are going to commercially apply technology that we have been working on for years. It is fantastic that we will actually see this new material in the supermarket and in the consumer’s refrigerator.”
Avantium was founded in 2000 as a spin-off from Shell. For years, the company has been working on plans for a factory that can extract 2,5-furandicarboxylic acid (FDCA) from plants on a large scale. This substance is again an important building block for vegetable plastic.
This PEF is fully recyclable and offers a solution to the waste problem with plastic packaging. It is also a direct replacement for PET commonly used in the beverage industry and can thus be used in machines already used to make plastic bottles.
It is the first time in the world that the material is being produced on a commercial scale, says Van Aken. “It rarely happens in the chemical industry that someone brings a new plastic material to the market. So we are also very proud that we have developed this technology in the Netherlands and are now also scaling it up.”
Coca-Cola and Danone
For the construction, it has taken out a loan of 90 million euros from ING, ABN Amro, Rabobank, ASN and investment fund Invest-NL. Earlier, the European Union and various governments already promised 27.5 million euros in subsidies. In addition, Groningen Seaports and regional investment funds are investing 20 million euros in the factory.
As a buyer, Avantium strict, among others, the large bottler Refresco and various medium-sized foreign players. After that, it hopes to attract all major food and beverage producers such as Coca-Cola and Danone, according to the CEO. “With PEF we have a fantastic material to meet all the demands of those big players.”
Initially, the Groningen factory will produce small quantities. At a later stage, Avantium will enter into discussions with partners to sell the production under license. Van Aken expects that PEF can be produced on a large scale from 2026 and that it can therefore reach the consumer.