May 5, 2020 / 10:03 AM / 24 days ago

Singapore's RWDC raising $133 mln to make biodegradable plastic substitute

SINGAPORE, May 5 (Reuters) - Singapore-based RWDC Industries Ltd said on Tuesday it is raising $133 million in fresh funding to produce a biodegradable material that can be substituted for single-use plastic in products such as straws, bottle caps and plates.

Investors in the funding round include venture capital firm Vickers Venture Partners, Flint Hills Resources, which is a unit of Koch Industries, pension fund CPV/CAP Pensionskasse Coop and alternate investment fund International SA, RWDC said.

RWDC develops “biopolymer material” polyhydroxyalkanoates or PHAs, which are naturally produced by microbial fermentation of plant-based oils or sugar. Mainly produced from used cooking oil, RWDC says its PHA is certified to be fully biodegradable without any toxic residue.

Companies around the world are racing to research and produce alternatives to plastic as waste piles up in oceans and cities ban plastic bags and straws.

“It is pretty clear that the world needs to move in this direction. This is not a fad or a trend,” said Zhaotan Xiao, RWDC President, Asia.

RWDC, founded in 2015, declined to provide a valuation.

The company will use the funding, which it will receive in two tranches, to expand production capacity by building a 4,000-tonne facility in Athens, Georgia in the United States to support clients’ initial product launches. It will also use the new funds to conduct research and development.

It plans to follow up with another 25,000 tonne full-scale plant in Athens, and is also eyeing future production in Southeast Asia.

RWDC has signed agreements for sales with some clients and expects to start booking commercial revenues in the second half of this year, Xiao said.

Depending on how quickly the company can build more factories, RWDC has the potential to hit a billion dollars in revenue within a few years, Xiao added. (Reporting by Aradhana Aravindan in Singapore; Editing by Himani Sarkar)

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