The energy giant PTT Plc is targeting the second quarter of 2015 for the start of operations at its bio-polybutylene succinate (PBS) factory, the first of its kind in the world.Sukrit Surabotsopon, the senior executive vice-president for petrochemicals and refining, said the 2.5-billion-baht plant for bio-PBS, a type of biodegradable plastic, recently began construction. Annual output will be 20,000 tonnes. Bio-PBS, whose applications are used in industries such as automobiles and textiles, is touted to be 100% degradable in 180 days thanks to a microorganism that turns it into carbon dioxide, soil and water. The facility is located on 1,500 rai in Map Ta Phut's Asia Industrial Estate, said Mr Sukrit. ''This will be the first biodegradable PBS plant in the world, as all other PBS manufacturing facilities are petroleum-based,'' said Mr Sukrit. The factory will be operated by PTT MCC Biochem Co, a 50:50 joint venture between PTT and Japan's Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation. The company has started talking with sugar producers about supplying the commodity. It has concluded talks in supplying half the annual output to Japanese trader firms in the form of offtake contracts. The balance of the production will go to the domestic market. PTT has also conducting a feasibility study with NatureWorks LLC for the development of polylactic acid (PLA), another type of biodegradable plastic. ''We have to wait for global demand for PLA to grow. With oil prices not very high right now, demand for bioplastics won't increase substantially,'' said Mr Sukrit. US-based NatureWorks wants a second PLA plant outside its country. The company will introduce Thailand's first popcorn containers made of biodegradable material by joining hands with Major Cineplex Group Plc. Shares of PTT closed yesterday on the Stock Exchange of Thailand at 330 baht, up four baht, in heavy trade worth 1.8 billion baht.
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Writer: Yuthana Praiwan and Sarissa Indhakanok