The world’s first global scale manufacturing facility capable of making commercial grade plastics from annually renewable resources (such as ordinary field corn) has been opened in the USA by Cargill Dow.

According to Jim Hobbs, commercial director for packaging, the Blair, Nebraska, facility will offer the global packaging industry a significant increase in the commercial availability of its NatureWorks polylactide. "The opening is a clear sign to the packaging industry that we are a serious player and have the capacity to be more than just an innovator, but a true global leader," he claims.

Cargill Dow has been pursuing a range of packaging applications and has test marketed and launched products in Europe, Asia Pacific and North America. Prior to the completion of the new facility, the company was producing a limited amount of PLA at its semi-works facility outside Minneapolis.

The 16 acre Blair facility is capable of producing more than 140,000t/year of NatureWorks PLA, using up to 40,000 bushels of locally grown corn/day as the raw material for the manufacturing process.

Inherent physical properties claimed for the material include high gloss, superior clarity, strong deadfold, and odour barrier.