PLA: becoming a market leader in bioplastics


- Headquarters: Netherlands
- PLA polymerization plant: Thailand
Partners: TotalEnergies, Corbion (50:50 joint venture)
Start of production: December 2018

75,000 metric tons
production capacity for polylactic acid (PLA), a fully biobased polymer
Carte PLA
Examining a sample at QA lab Total Corbion PLA Rayong Thailand

To meet the challenge of climate change, we are exploring the most promising pathways for converting biomass, including polylactic acid (PLA), a 100% biobased and biodegradable plastic produced from renewable raw materials (sugar or starch). In March 2017, we created a joint venture with the world leader in lactic acid, Dutch company Corbion. Our ambition is to become a major player in the fast-growing bioplastics market. 

Producing and Marketing Bioplastics

Driven by strong demand, the bioplastics market is expanding steadily, with an estimated annual growth rate of between 10% and 15% by 2025. A fully biobased and biodegradable polymer, PLA is one of the first renewable polymers able to compete with conventional polymers in terms of performance. It is also three times less carbon intensive.

By partnering with Corbion, our ambition is to become the world's number two supplier of PLA. This joint venture aims to produce and market a new range of PLA polymers under the Luminy® brand: from standard PLA to innovative, high heat PLA and PDLA1 with unique properties. The products will meet customers’ needs in a wide range of markets notably packaging, consumer goods, 3D printing, fibers and automotive. 

1 Poly D-Lactic Acid

Stéphane Dion, CEO de Total Corbion PLA
Corbion is the world leader in lactic acid and its derivatives; it will supply the lactic acid needed for the production of lactide and PLA. TotalEnergies will provide its in-depth expertise in polymer processes, its R&D resources and its global marketing network.
Stephane Dion CEO of TotalEnergies' and Corbion's joint venture

With this additional 75,000 tonnes per year facility, the global production of PLA bioplastics will increase by almost 50% to 240,000 tonnes per year. 

PLA: Converting Sugar Into Plastic


Granulés de PLA

Lactic acid, obtained through the fermentation of sugar or starch, is the raw material used to produce polylactic acid (PLA). Lactic acid is converted into a monomer, lactide, which is then polymerized to form PLA. At the end of its useful life, PLA can be industrially composted or depolymerized to obtain the initial monomer (lactic acid), which may then be re-utilized to once again produce PLA.