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The advent of bio-based plastic that can be created on an industrial scale gathered pace last week with the imminent construction of a demonstration plant that will advance the development of a key ingredient.

Derived from renewable sugars, mono-ethylene glycol (MEG) is a bio-based compound that can be used to make everyday products such as PET (polyethylene terephthalate) and PEF (polyethylene furanoate) plastics and polyester textiles – materials that close to 100% of which are produced using fossil fuels. The company behind the sustainable alternative is Avantium, the renewable chemistry company that said the plant would provide environmentally-minded consumers and brands with the eco-plastic they crave.

Based on Avantium’s Mekong technology which converts renewable sugars into bio-based MEG, the plant has come following a previous investment from the company of around £17.5 million (€20 million). It is planned to enter operation in 2019 and, when it does, will look to address the imbalance of fossil-based plastics versus bio-based alternatives ahead of the predicted near-doubling of plastic use over the next 20 years to 50 million tonnes.

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