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Company Profile…Corbion

| October 4, 2019

As a global market leader in lactic acid and lactic acid derivatives, and a leading company in emulsifiers, functional enzyme blends, minerals, vitamins and algae ingredients, Corbion has come a long way since 1919 when it was founded by sugar producer, Centrale Suiker Maatschappij (CSM) N.V. Today, it produces biobased ingredients and chemicals that offer improved performance, production efficiency and safety. Manufactured from renewable resources, and using the most advanced and efficient fermentation processes, Corbion’s solutions offer a sustainable alternative to fossil-based chemicals for customers operating across a wide spectrum of industries, including food and beverage, pharma, agrochemicals, home and personal care (HPC), biochemicals and bioplastics.

The challenge for formulators is to find biobased solvents that perform well in use.

Company vision

Headquartered in the Netherlands, Corbion’s strategy and operations are aimed at advancing sustainability and applying high ethical standards. Seeing the bigger picture in everything it does, the company strives to help global players meet the pressures of tomorrow, today. From the sourcing of alternative feedstocks and renewable raw materials, as well as the implementation of efficient production processes, to developing products that are biodegradable or exhibit low toxicity, Corbion looks to ensure that sustainability is engrained from the very start.

Understanding the balance between commercial and sustainability goals is equally important though. For example, being sustainable isn’t easy. That’s especially true when it comes to delivering the expected functionality. In today’s competitive landscape, sub-standard products just don’t cut it – they must deliver on performance and sustainability alike for businesses to maintain a competitive advantage. As such, Corbion strives to effectively help producers develop winning products, while also making more conscious choices that fit with a circular economy to create a sustainable future for everyone.

Corbion in agrochemicals

Building on 100 years of experience in the production of lactic acid and its derivatives, Corbion’s agrochemical solutions are developed to tackle the growing demand for safe, sustainable options that will help to increase agrochemical efficiency.
Thorough knowledge and continuous exploration of organic chemistry and polymer technology provide a solid foundation for discovering novel ways to deliver real, differentiated value. By providing solvency and preservation in formulations, and designing lactic-based co-polymers for instance, Corbion provides functionalities that enable game-changing agrochemical technologies.
With deep scientific expertise and commitment to ongoing research in areas of organic chemistry and co-polymer technology, Corbion also provides a solid foundation for the exploration and discovery of solutions that simultaneously benefit businesses, consumers and the planet. Core expertise includes:

  • Solvency
  • Preservation
  • Biodegradable co-polymers

The formulation challenge

Over the past decade, regulatory barriers and escalating R&D costs have slowed the introduction of new actives. Agrochemical companies are increasingly looking at reformulation and ingredient technologies to differentiate their products – particularly given pressures to replace specific components of existing products with lower-risk ingredients. The safety and sustainability of agrochemical products has never been under more intense scrutiny.

Emulsifiable concentrates (EC) and dispersible concentrates (DC) are widely used in agrochemical products. Both formulation types comprise at least one active ingredient (AI), a solvent or blend of solvents, surfactants (emulsifiers), and possibly adjuvants, the main difference being that the solvent in DC formulations is water soluble. As such, both require superior solvency and emulsification to perform effectively.

The most common solvents used in these formulations are derived from petrochemicals. Although effective in providing solvency, these chemicals can come with significant drawbacks. Some are considered toxic to farmers, while also being phytotoxic to crops in some cases. In addition, because they are generally derived from an unsustainable source and not always biodegradable, their use does not reflect a concern for the environment. The challenge for formulators therefore, is to find biobased solvents that can perform as well as, if not better than, petrochemical alternatives, with comparable solvency properties in formulation and AI efficacy during application.

Similarly, in-can preservatives are used to protect products against spoilage. While biocides, such as isothiazolinones, are effective and widely used, there has been a renewed interest in improving these formulations due to safety concerns and new regulatory restrictions on biocide use. Additional to this, consumer awareness of global environmental issues has increased the demand for more eco-friendly ingredients and products on the market, putting increasing pressure on formulators to comply through innovation. Via its comprehensive agrochemical toolkit, Corbion delivers a broad range of options for different types of biobased formulations to meet these growing demands and requirements.

Company research and production facilities, Corbion, Gorinchem, The Netherlands.

Superior solvency

Corbion’s PURASOLV® esters are excellent solvents for many active ingredients and can be used as a bio-based and non-toxic replacement for potentially unsafe solvents. Examples of ingredients that it can replace include: N-Methyl-2-pyrrolidone (NMP), dimethylacetamide (DMAc), dimethylformamide (DMF), xylene, toluene, isophorone and chlorinated solvents. Moreover, PURASOLV® creates new opportunities to develop sustainable reformulations for active ingredients that are due to come off-patent. Ideal for use in pesticide formulations, including emulsifiable concentrates (EC) or dispersible concentrates (DC), PURASOLV® esters offer multiple functionalities including:

  • Excellent solvency – even at low temperatures,
  • Improved solubility properties of active ingredients in pesticide formulations,
  • Compatibility with the most widely used organic solvents,
  • Effective solvency in mixtures containing water soluble and water insoluble active ingredients,
  • Good fit with plant extract biocontrols,
  • Enhanced biological efficacy of active ingredients and good wetting properties,
  • Adjuvancy in tank mix and post-harvest applications.

Protective preservation

Most preservatives have inherent disadvantages: they can be difficult to use, may be chemically toxic and irritating or supply-constrained, such as isothiazolinones. It’s therefore no surprise that agrochemical producers and regulators are looking for alternatives to traditional biocides. Corbion’s PURAC® Sanilac is a potent, non-toxic alternative to traditional biocides that enables isothiazolinone replacement – so manufacturers can bring more sustainable products to market. The ingredient works perfectly in formulations with a low pH.


The rate of a product’s biodegradability largely depends on the environment in which it is used, and in agriculture, climate and soil composition can vary widely by location. Knowing the conditions under which a product is being used, Corbion can adapt the polymer’s design to reach the optimum biodegradation rate. For instance, increasing molecular weight and/or crystallinity can slow the process. Conversely, increasing hydrophilicity can speed it up.

Polymers can be designed to meet desired specifications within the governing regulatory framework. With co-creation in mind, we offer our customers and partners the flexibility in polymer design and formulation development they need to achieve their aims in a specific application.

Biodegradable (co-)polymers

Corbion’s heritage as a lactic acid producer connects its co-creators to expertise in lactic acid-based co-polymers. With its understanding of polymeric structures and the ways they determine a material’s physical and chemical properties, it is possible to fine-tune a polymer’s architecture to deliver specific properties and functionality in the end application. Through deliberate polymer design, barrier properties, impact resistance, viscosity, adhesion, permeability or release profile, biodegradability and other properties can be adjusted. Combining this in-depth polymer design know-how with the company’s biobased building blocks makes a range of solutions for the co-creation of high-performing, sustainable agrochemical delivery systems possible. Specifically, in the agrochemical space, its co-polymer platform can play a critical role in solving biodegradability challenges.

Taking co-polymers further

Our biodegradable co-polymer co-creation journey has opened up opportunities for developing more tailored solutions for agrochemical applications ranging from coatings for different types of fertilizers to microencapsulation or polymer entrapment of pesticides, as well as binders (adhesives) in agrochemical formulations. Corbion enables such solutions through its SENTIALL® co-polymer platform, which offers flexibility in tuning polymer architecture to yield specific properties. These properties may include flowability, adhesion, controlled release, flexibility, toughness or impact resistance in a wide variety of applications and chemistries.

Co-creation in action, shared ideas & experience, helping to achieve more & innovate faster.

Keeping one eye on the future

Corbion’s Innovation Platforms business unit creates new biotechnology business platforms. By using the company’s core technologies, stand-alone or combined with its partners’ technologies, the innovation team looks to drive growth via a disciplined stage-gate investment approach.

Bringing Corbion’s co-creation vision to life, however, depends on collaboration with partners in the agrochemical industry; combining its expertise with market-leading biotechnology to create breakthrough advancements that deliver unprecedented value. Agrochemical solutions that increase product efficacy, reduce environmental impact, and help feed a growing population are more than possible – they are just waiting to be realised.

Our 50/50 joint venture with Total for the production and marketing of polylactic acid bioplastic (Total Corbion PLA) is part of this business unit. Its high-performance PLA resins can be used to make a wide range of applications – ranging from biodegradable food packaging, to touchscreen computers and durable automotive components.

The Innovation Platforms business unit also comprises Corbion’s succinic acid joint venture with BASF (Succinity) and algae ingredients business, as well as longer-term development projects such as 2,5-Furandicarboxylic acid (FDCA), a potential replacement for purified terephthalic acid (PTA), a gypsum-free lactic acid process and developments regarding the use of alternative feedstocks (lignocellulosic biomass, agricultural residues and waste).

Creating sustainable growth

In addition to its co-creation approach, Corbion recently launched a “Creating Sustainable Growth” strategy to maximize the value of its fermentation capabilities to tackle global megatrends, such as population expansion, food security, changing values, climate change, and resource scarcity.

Like many chemical companies, the 2015 release of the UN Sustainable Development Goals gave Corbion an opportunity to frame the practical benefits of its products and focus its own development goals. The United Nations’ goal of responsible production and consumption relates to a circular economy, which includes food waste reduction as a sub-target. Biobased chemicals and materials from the company play an essential role in promoting this initiative and furthering the transition to a circular economy. For example, when these biobased materials are consumed or reach the end of their lifecycle, many of our products end up as CO2. This CO2 is then used by plants to grow, many of which provide the key raw materials to develop our products, thus enabling a circular economy. In addition, by increasing the shelf life of food products, we are able to have a positive impact on food waste reduction. Meanwhile, on the biochemical side of the business, the company offers biobased alternatives to typical fossil petro-based products.

Corbion’s efforts and commitment to sustainable development were recognised in 2018 when it achieved a gold rating in its Ecovadis assessment. Supporting the entire business strategy of “Creating Sustainable Growth”, the evaluation comprised policies, actions and results across all of its production facilities worldwide. Today, the rating has become an integral part of the company’s dealings with customers – strengthening the transparency and collaboration that underpin all Corbion’s partnerships.

More information visit : Corbion web-site
Mark van Denderen – Senior Business Development Manager Biobased Ingredients,

Published in International Pest Control – September/October 2019

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Category: Company news, Company Profile

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