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Carbios and Indorama to build first-of-its-kind enzymatic recycling plant for PET in France

| By Mary Bailey

Carbios (St-Beauzire, France) and Indorama Ventures Ltd. (IVL; Bangkok, Thailand) jointly announced a collaboration to build a manufacturing plant operating Carbios’ PET (polyethylene terephthalate) bio-recycling technology at Indorama Ventures’ PET production site in France (Longlaville, Meurthe-et-Moselle).

After having successfully started up its demonstration plant in Clermont-Ferrand, Carbios is now moving one step further towards the industrialization and commercialization by partnering with Indorama Ventures. The goal is to build and operate in France the world’s first industrial-scale enzymatic PET bio-recycling plant, with a processing capacity estimated at around 50,000 tons of post-consumer PET waste per year, equivalent to 2 billion PET bottles or 2.5 billion PET trays

After the positive results of Indorama Ventures’ initial analysis on the technical soundness of Carbios’ technology over the past several months, both parties agreed to complete a due diligence process. A feasibility study will be conducted for the industrialization of Carbios’ technology on Indorama Ventures’ French production site. Subject to the successful completion of these technical and economical evaluations, Indorama Ventures would co-invest in the project.

The capital investment required for the project is expected to be around €150 million for Carbios core technology, including in particular an additional purification step, which has been integrated into the process. In addition, an estimated €50 million investment will be allocated for the infrastructure preparation of the site. The project is expected to create approximatively 150 direct and indirect full-time jobs. In the coming months, Carbios expects to finalize a strong non-dilutive financial support from French Government and from the Grand-Est Region5, based on the offer received last week by Carbios, from the Minister of Industry, Agnès Pannier-Runacher and the President of Grand-Est Region, Jean Rottner.

This financial support will be conditional on the notification to the European Commission and on contractualization by French authorities. Carbios announced in its half-year results on the 30th September 2021 a cash position of €112 million. Since then, Carbios has also secured a €30 million loan from EIB.

This collaboration reflects both parties’ ambition to address the growing concern of plastics pollution through the development of Carbios’ enzymatic bio-recycling process. This disruptive technology could accelerate the transition to a plastics Circular Economy.

With its world-first enzyme-based biological process, Carbios’ technology, named C-ZYME™, converts PET (the dominant polymer in bottles, trays and textiles made of polyester) into its core monomers, which can then be used to manufacture 100% recycled and infinitely recyclable PET. This first-of-a-kind manufacturing plant combines Carbios’ science and technology with Indorama Ventures’ world-class manufacturing capabilities. This collaboration will meet the growing needs of both demanding consumers and large consumer goods companies including Carbios’ partners and shareholders (L’Oréal, Michelin, L’Occitane, Nestlé Waters, PepsiCo, Suntory Beverage & Food Europe) for more sustainable packaging.

Bruno Le Maire, French Minister of the Economy, Finance and the Recovery: “We are very pleased that Carbios and Indorama Ventures have chosen France to build their first 100% bio-recycled PET manufacturing plant. From cutting-edge science, Carbios has developed a disruptive technology and process that enables efficient transformation of plastic waste into novel valuable products. This breakthrough project showcases the government’s ambition within France 2030: getting ready for the challenges of the next decade. Combining biotechnology and a renewed industrial ambition will be key to achieve a more circular economy.”

Agnès Pannier-Runacher, Minister Delegate for Industry: “The announcement by Carbios of a flagship project of enzymatic plastic recycling demonstrates our ability to foster the emergence of innovative industry leaders with cutting edge technologies for the energy transition. It is a success for industrial startups in France as well as a key milestone in the France 2030 strategy, making our industry ready to meet the needs of the Transition.”

Jean Rottner, President of Grand-Est Region: “Contributing to a cleaner planet while creating new jobs and economic value is our core mission. Hence, we are very pleased to welcome Carbios in Grand-Est Region and very proud to greet Longlaville site selection for their world-first 100% bio-recycled PET plant, in partnership with Indorama Ventures, already present and very active in our Region. Carbios reference plant is fully integrated within Grand-Est Region ambition to become a leading territory for PET circular economy. This project represents a first significant milestone in building our complete ecosystem.”

“With this first medium-sized plant, we want to become the world reference for the Circular Economy of plastics and textiles. By engaging in such a partnership with Indorama Ventures, we confirm our commitment to pursue our initial industrial development in France. This plant will pave the way towards international commercial and industrial deployment. We are grateful to our shareholders, partners, the French Government, and Grand-Est Region for sharing Carbios’ ambitions and vision towards a profitable Circular Economy.” Comments Emmanuel Ladent, Chief Executive Officer of Carbios.

 “We are pleased to implement Carbios’ innovative and transformative technology at our Longlaville site. Bio-recycled PET addresses customers’ growing demand to contribute to a cleaner planet through high-quality plastics while decreasing the use of hydrocarbons.” adds D K Agarwal, Chief Executive Officer of Indorama Ventures.