Brussels, 8 December 2022
Futerro plans to set up Europe's first vertically integrated biorefinery in Normandy to produce PLA and recycle it
Following the construction of its first PLA (poly-lactic acid) plant in China in 2021, Futerro's ambition is to set up a new fully integrated biorefinery in the industrial and port area of Port-Jérôme, in the Caux Seine agglomeration (commune of Saint-Jean-de-Folleville), located on the Seine axis between Rouen and Le Havre.
Futerro, a Belgian company and leader in the production of PLA, has started negotiations with Caux-Seine Agglo and its economic development agency Caux-Seine Développement in order to build a new generation of vertically integrated biorefinery, with an annual production capacity of 75,000 tons. The project should potentially create 250 direct jobs and 900 jobs in adjacent sectors.
PLA is a new biopolymer with all the advantages that today's industry is looking for:
- It is bio-based and does not draw on fossil resources
- It has excellent mechanical properties and can replace many petro-plastics
- It is molecularly recyclable to infinity without altering its quality
- The only polymer whose degradation product, lactic acid, is harmless to human health
"We describe our polymer as the first "bio-renewable" plastic. Derived from plant-based carbon, it can be recycled easily and ecologically to obtain a virgin polymer of the same quality as its first life cycle: this is a unique characteristic" explains Frédéric Van Gansberghe, CEO of Futerro.
This fully integrated biorefinery aims to include a lactic acid unit transforming raw materials of agricultural origin, a PLA conversion unit and a unit dedicated to molecular recycling of PLA.
The project will be in line with the best standards in the circular economy, valuing all by-products in various sectors such as green energy, agriculture or animal and human food, thus optimizing the productivity of the infrastructure.
"We considered many sites for this first European unit. We very much appreciated the way in which the local authorities and elected representatives helped us to study the location of our project in the port area of Port Jérôme" explains Frédéric Van Gansberghe.
The selection of this site was guided by 6 key factors:
- The availability of a large industrial site with the possibility of expanding production capacity
- The possibility of using low-carbon energy
- The presence of agricultural raw materials
- The interest and experience of local public and private actors in supporting large-scale projects for the sustainable re-industrialization of the region
- Access to the waterway and the multiple logistical possibilities offered by the Radicatel terminal and the port of Le Havre
- The presence of a pool of technical skills dedicated to the chemical and polymer sectors
A project that is part of the French dynamic towards a greener economy
"Normandy is an industrial region. This is confirmed every day by the announcements of industrial projects such as Futerro. Nevertheless, beyond the figures of industrial jobs created or the share of industrial added value in Normandy's GDP, I note that the development model that we advocate makes sense to business leaders. Indeed, the Normandy Region endeavors to promote every project of establishment or development as long as it is in line with the principles we uphold, in particular the creation of industrial activities, true markers of Normandy's identity, within the framework of a project acceleration approach making decarbonization one of the new development pillars of our territory. The decision by Futerro, one of the leaders in the green chemistry sector, is just one example of Normandy's attractiveness in this field," explains Hervé Morin, President of the Normandy region.
This project is perfectly in line with the European Green Deal policy, the development of the circular economy and the decarbonization strategy of the French government and the European Union. It will enable the Normandy basin, historically oriented towards petrochemicals, to become the first major player in green chemistry, thus accelerating the transition from fossil carbon to carbon from biomass.
"A true pioneer of the circular economy on the Seine Axis in Normandy, Caux Seine agglo has made the decarbonization of its industry sector one of its priorities. With its Port Jérôme industrial zone, the agglomeration has created a space dedicated to a virtuous industrial ecosystem: the establishment of the Futerro project in the commune of Saint-Jean-de-Folleville once again confirms the attractiveness and resilience of the community in its approach to economic development, as well as its leading position in the circular economy and green chemistry. This investment project, carried out jointly with the Normandy Region, consolidates and strengthens the ambitious environmental approach to transition that we are taking: for an innovative industry that supports green growth and creates jobs, Caux Seine agglo reconciles ecology and industry," added Virginie Carolo-Lutrot, President of Caux Seine agglo.
Futerro has already put an option on a plot of land of approximately 26.5 hectares located in the commune of Saint-Jean-de-Folleville, on the Port-Jérôme industrial estate, and has begun the ecological and environmental analysis procedures on site. During 2023, the project will also be the subject of a preliminary consultation.