The company states that this increase, which brings the plant up to full design capacity, has been triggered by two factors: the rise in oil prices and the current consumer trend for renewable plastics in consumer products.
Natureworks has been keen to capitalize on the trend for renewable materials in consumer packaging for quite some time. It claims to be the first to make commercially available low carbon footprint biopolymers, which were derived directly from 100 per cent annually renewable resources.
Environmental plastics trend
With more and more cosmetics companies buying into this trend to satisfy consumer awareness of environmental issues, the company’s fortunes have been on in the increase and it has rapidly expanded. It states that overall sales “show an upward curve for the company’s more than 15 different grades of Inego bioresin”.
In 2008, Natureworks made a commitment to the environmental plastics trend by inaugurating a new manufacturing supply process which lowered CO2 emissions and reduced the amount of energy needed to produce Inego bioresin.
Green credentials criticized
However, the company’s green credentials came into criticism in March of this year from the Industry Council for Packaging and the Environment (INCPEN), which expressed concern that the recycling of bioplastics was too labour intensive. Natureworks has since refuted this claim, stating that “NIR systems can effectively remove PLA bio-plastic and carton board from a mixed packaging stream”
In addition, it has admitted that the rate of sales growth has slowed during the global recession and has been hampered by the fall in oil prices.
Nevertheless, Natureworks is confident that the company’s success will continue to grow with the consumer trend for green packaging.