Ingeo News: March 2023

Capacity Enhancing Technologies at the NatureWorks Plant in Blair, NE

In 2020, NatureWorks announced the addition of several capacity enhancing technologies including new lactide monomer purification technology to the Blair Ingeo PLA manufacturing facility.

To get the details on how the plant has evolved since the capacity enhancement, Senior Digital Strategist, Virginia Thompson, sat down with the Blair, NE NatureWorks Plant Leader, Craig Bossert, for an interview and some insights.

Virginia Thompson: Hi Craig, thanks for meeting with me today. Now that the capacity upgrades are complete in the Blair manufacturing plant, would you first explain how those enhancements have affected our production?

Craig Bossert: I’m happy to talk about it! So, the scope of the upgrades encompassed three independent phases:

The first phase was designed to increase separation in the middle of our distillation system. This improvement, and all the new appurtenances, allowed us to optimize the chemistry of the lactide stream at increased capacity which in turn enabled us to increase polymer production by 10 percent.

The second phase involved upgrading our ability to push Ingeo polymer through various unit operations in the plant. The previous installations were sized in a fashion wherein the mechanical design would create physical limitations as we pushed to higher rates, limiting our achievable capacity. The improvements allowed for increased capacity of our high-performance grades.

The third phase of the project was debottlenecking the back end of our plant (after the product is pelletized). A bottleneck analysis was completed and indicated the need for additional capacity within multiple unit operations if we were to maximize our production capabilities. Additional assets were sized, designed, and installed to alleviate any concerns related to our ability to move pelletized Ingeo PLA.

VT: How have you seen the improvement projects come together?

 Major construction efforts began in March of 2021 and continued into October of that year. Some assets were brought online in July, others carried to the end of that timeframe, others yet were modified to provide maximum benefit and were only finalized in the middle of 2022.

Following construction, commissioning and startup efforts took several months. We conducted extensive run time, performance analysis, and multiple months of “tuning” various parameters throughout the process to realize the full value of the improvements.

The results of these enhancements have enabled us to serve our customers better and provide new volumes to growing markets.

VT: What are the three most important aspects of the Blair plant that you think NatureWorks customers and partners don’t know?

My “top 3” aspects of the Blair facility all center on the people and the team.

1. We have world class safety results as a function of world class safety programs that are delivered year after year through normal operations, scheduled maintenance initiatives, and even major construction projects.

2. The ownership of the process, the assets, the products, and the performance of the plant reflect the quality of the people who show up to work every day.

3.The desire to innovate, improve, and execute each day is supported and fostered at all levels of the manufacturing organization, and across all functions.

Interested in using Ingeo biopolymer for your application? Contact us!

NatureWorks Shows the People Behind Ingeo in New Video

In November, 2022 NatureWorks set out to make a corporate video reflecting the people who work tirelessly to put out the best Ingeo biopolymer possible. The new video features NatureWorks employees in every aspect of the process including everyone from technicians, engineers, and scientists, to sales, marketing, and executives. Everyone plays an important role in furthering naturally advanced materials for the world. “Behind every box of Ingeo, there are people.”

NatureWorks Opens New Office in Bangkok

NatureWorks announced the opening of a new office in the Asia Pacific region on February 2, 2023. With the construction of the new plant in Thailand and growing markets in the Asia Pacific region, NatureWorks has opened a new office in Bangkok to support the growing team. An official ribbon cutting ceremony commenced on February 2nd and featured company executives, the NatureWorks Thai team, and some of the US team as well.

National Biobased Products Day 2023

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) designated March 8th as National Biobased Products Day. The new annual observance is intended to raise awareness of biobased products, their benefits, and contributions to the U.S. economy. Across social media platforms, NatureWorks demonstrated support for this day of biobased product recognition by sharing the Plant Based Products Council video on the life cycles of plant-based products versus fossil-based products. Watch the video.

NatureWorks Business Development Manager, Ady Jager, Retires

After 22 years of dedicated service to NatureWorks as a Business Development Manager in the Netherlands, Ady Jager sets her sail to retirement. NatureWorks is grateful for the time and energy Ady put into her role and wish her the very best in her well-deserved retirement.



PBPC Annual Conference: Circular Solutions

NatureWorks Sr. Circular Economy Manager, Shannon Pinc, will present “Chemicals of Concern and Transparency in Materials and Products” at this event.


NatureWorks Industry Leader, Salvador Ortega, will present “Ingeo PLA Advances and Breakthroughs in Hygiene Applications” at this event.

Stay up-to-date with where NatureWorks will be on our News & Events page.