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Cereplast to expand bioplastics production 10-fold

Cereplast (Hawthorne, CA; www.cereplast.com) will make the leap from batch supplier of compostable, renewable-based resins, to possibly the leading renewable plastics player, expanding its current production capacity of 50 million lb at its lone California manufacturing site to 500 million lb with a new 12-acre site in Seymour, IN. According to Cereplast CEO Frederic Scheer, the company will invest $7.35 million to equip an existing site in Indiana, which currently is occupied by a 105,000-sq-ft building. Once construction is completed by 2010, Scheer says the operation will expand beyond the original 12 acres to include 400,000-sq-ft of manufacturing space with approximately 200 employees, depending on demand growth rates. Cereplast will add rail capabilities to the site to handle material transport. The company will continue to manufacture at Hawthorne, which is located outside Los Angeles, with work beginning in Indiana in last month. It began operations there with an 8000-sq-ft building that expanded to 50,000 sq ft in 2006. Scheer says the new site is intended to be a flexible manufacturing site that will meet growing customer demand and manufacture Cereplast Compostables and Cereplast Hybrid Resins.
Cereplast’s products include compostable resins which join polylactic acid (PLA) materials from NatureWorks (Minnetonka, MN) and various starches, as well as a new line of hybrid resins that mix petroleum-based polymers with renewable elements to achieve polypropylene. Scheer says Cereplast has had no supply issues with NatureWorks, although industry wide, talk of PLA scarcity is abundant. He added that in Indiana his company continues to investigate local partnerships for the various starches that can be applied in Cereplast’s products, but nothing formal has been announced.
In related news, Cereplast expanded its portfolio to include a freeze-tolerant resin claimed to maintain its structural rigidity in freezing temperatures, targeting frozen-food applications, as well as products requiring resistance to low temperature or high flexibility. Called CP-INJ-13, the resin is based on polylactic acid (PLA), and offers structural integrity to -35°C. Standard PLA comes in at -20°C. The resin also features greater tensile elongation strength as well as notched Izod impact strength.—[email protected]
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