Dow Chemical Co. and Japanese trading company Mitsui & Co. Ltd. will postpone plans to build a plant for sugarcane ethanol-based plastics, citing rising design and construction costs and land ownership laws in Brazil for the indefinite delay, Plastics News confirmed this week.
The green plastics project, first announced in 2007, had been slated to break ground this year on a biopolymers facility in Santa Vitoria, Minas Gerais state, at a projected cost of US$1.5 billion. Dow formed a joint venture with Mitsui in July 2011, with plans to plant and harvest their own sugarcane, build an ethanol plant with 2.7 million metric tons of cane capacity, and follow it with an ethanol-to-ethylene and biopolymers plant. The entire complex was originally slated to begin operating later this year. Dow told Plastics News it and Mitsui will postpone phase two, building the plastics plant. The first phase, which includes expanding sugarcane plantations and building an ethanol plant, remains on schedule. The companies currently have about 50,000 acres of first-generation cane growing and plan to harvest in 2014.