Today in Patrica (FR) is the day the Mater–Biopolymer plant opens. Mater-Bi is a company wholly controlled by the Novamont group, purpose of which is the manufacture of ORIGO–BI®, biopolyesters with a high level of renewables, components of MATER-BI® compostable bioplastics.
The plant originated from reconversion of the former Mossi & Ghisolfi plant, which manufactured PET. The various sections of the plant have been regenerated, modified and in some cases wholly renewed to implement innovative technologies developed by Novamont in the form of a continuous process. These are technologies able to use the raw materials of Novamont’s system – biobutandiol and azelaic acid, bio-based monomers – to manufacture ORIGO-BI® biololyesters through a process which is increasingly sustainable, and always directed towards reducing emissions.
Mater-Biopolymer also possesses with a complex system of utilities which minimise costs and wastes through waste recovery with a view to the circular economy and sustainability. The approach to the reutilisation of waste products has led to the perfection of a process for wastewater purification to obtain tetrahydrofuran (THF), a chemical intermediate for the chemical and pharmaceutical industries, from renewable sources, for the first time in the world (bio-THF). THF can be used as a chemical solvent and in the pharmaceutical industry.
With a production capacity of 100 thousand metric tons of ORIGO-BI® per year, and occupying a total surface area of 140,000 m2, the Patrica site employs some 90 people, not to mention the indirect employment generated by its operation (maintenance, movement of materials, etc.) and stimulated employment. It works in close cooperation with Novamont Research and Development to test new polyesters and variants of the process to use renewable raw materials.
With regard to environmental impact, reconversion of the second production line and THF recovery have generated environmental advantages by reducing CO2 emissions and reducing travel by wheeled transport. These can be quantified as follows:
246,000 metric tons of CO2 equivalent emissions per year have been avoided
1,296,000 km of wheeled transport have been avoided, in comparison with the transport of THF-containing wastes which were disposed of off-site.
In line with Novamont’s strategy based on the use of world-leading technologies for the revitalisation of industrial sites, Mater-Biopolymer is a virtuous example of industrial development aimed at local regeneration and the beneficial reutilisation of decommissioned infrastructure. The plant is a further step forward in the local integrated biorefinery model championed by Novamont, which now has 6 interconnected reactivated sites, 4 proprietary technologies and a number of strongly innovative service plants which are in turn capable of producing new products.
“Novamont’s industrialisation efforts over the last few years have been enormous and have few equals anywhere in Europe,” said Catia Bastioli, Novamont’s managing director. “But we need to be aware of the fact that what has been built so far is irrelevant if we do not know how to use it to increase the number of local regenerations to the point where these predominate over deterioration. All in all, we must work together towards a regenerative approach to natural resources, which should not be seen as a limitation but as a great opportunity to redesign our society on a sustainable basis with its roots in the land, more inclusively and contributively, where there is equal space for the big and the small. In all of this the world of agriculture and the soil and its preservation and regeneration are of vital importance.”