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Natureworks LLC
Key people
Marc Verbruggen, President and CEO
ParentCargill; PTT Global Chemical

NatureWorks LLC is an international company that manufactures bioplasticspolymers derived entirely from plant resources—as an alternative to conventional plastic, which is made from petroleum. The commercial quality polymer is made from the carbon found in simple plant sugars such as corn starch to create a proprietary polylactic acid polymer (PLA) which is marketed under the brand name Ingeo.[1] Headquartered in Minnetonka, Minnesota, NatureWorks is jointly owned by Cargill and PTT Global Chemical, a Thai state-owned company.


In 2001, a joint venture between Cargill and the Dow Chemical Company was formed under the name Cargill Dow LLC and in 2005, Cargill bought out Dow’s interest in the venture. In 2002, a manufacturing facility in Blair, Nebraska began operations. It is the world's first and largest PLA facility and it supplies NatureWorks' Ingeo biopolymer. The Blair facility slated to increase its Ingeo nameplate capacity to 150,000 metric tons in the first quarter of 2013.[2]

In 2007 Cargill, the parent company, entered into a joint venture with Japan's Teijin, which acquired a 50% stake in NatureWorks.[3][4][5] The partnership was dissolved in July 2009 when Teijin faced corporate restructuring in the wake of the Great Recession.[6]

NatureWorks is headquartered in Minnetonka, Minnesota, but its main manufacturing facility is in Blair, Nebraska, with additional offices Naarden, the Netherlands; Tokyo, Japan; and Bangkok, Thailand.[7] It was considering building an additional manufacturing plant in Thailand but due to the 2014 Thai coup d'état and related turmoil it had not committed. Other countries under consideration include Malaysia and Singapore.[8]

In 2013 NatureWorks sold 1 billion pounds of Ingeo.[9] Its competitors in the bioplastics industry include DuPont, Braskem (BAK), Toray Industries, Lanxess AG, Bayer, BASF, and Eastman Chemical Company.[10][11]

NatureWorks hosts a conference called "Innovation takes Root",[12] which brings together Ingeo Polymer users.


Ingeo biopolymer bears the resin identification code 7 and can be chemically recycled,[13] composted[14] or landfilled.[15] Ordinary home composts cannot break down the polymer, although high-temperature commercial composting systems can.[16]

NatureWorks integrated NatureWorks PLA into the recycling system in the United States according to guidelines published by the Association of Plastic Recyclers. It commissioned an independent third party to study PLA's environmental impact, which indicated that PLA was a "neutral contributor in the existing recycling stream and can be effectively sorted using available detection technology".[17]


  1. ^ "2002 Greener Reaction Conditions Award", United States Environmental Protection Agency
  2. ^ "NatureWorks Broadens Ingeo Product Portfolio with Sulzer Proprietary Production Equipment", Packaging Europe
  3. ^ "Cargill, Teijin Form Joint Venture for NatureWorks". NatureWorks. October 1, 2007.
  4. ^ "PTT Chemical invests $150M in NatureWorks, which heads for Thailand", Biofuels Digest, October 12, 2011.
  5. ^ Changplayngam, Pisit; Ploy Ten Kate (October 12, 2011). "Thai PTT Chemical pays $150 mln for NatureWorks stake". Reuters. Bangkok. Retrieved 2012-09-27.
  6. ^ Ben Klayman (July 2, 2009). "Cargill and Teijin dissolve plastics joint venture". Reuters.
  7. ^ "Locations". NatureWorks. Retrieved 30 January 2015.
  8. ^ Rebecca Kanthor (May 23, 2014). "Political turmoil in Thailand has NatureWorks' plant site decision in the air". Plastics News.
  9. ^ Rhoda Miel (March 6, 2014). "With 1 billion pounds of PLA sold, NatureWorks sees rapid growth to 2 billion". Plastics News.
  10. ^ "Global Market for Bioplastics - Segment Forecast to 2018". Transparency Market Research. January 19, 2015.
  11. ^ "NatureWorks Aims to Create a World Beyond Plastic- and it's Building Manufacturing Power to Meet that Goal", Minnesota Business
  12. ^ "Innovation Takes Root"
  13. ^ "Chemical recycling closes the LOOPLA for cradle-to-cradle PLA"
  14. ^ "Compostable Plastics 101"
  15. ^ "Biodegradable Products are not major contributors to Methane Emissions from landfills"
  16. ^ Learn, Scott (2008-10-27). "Corn plastic sounds great, but it's tough to recycle and may foul systems". The Oregonian. Retrieved 2012-09-25.
  17. ^ "NatureWorks® PLA in the Recycling Stream in the United States" (PDF). The Plastic Redesign Project. Retrieved 30 January 2015.