Biodegradable Plastic Maker Plans $700M Georgia Factory

A southwest Georgia company announced Monday that it will spend $700 million to build a factory to produce biodegradable packaging for the world's largest candy makers and others.

Danimer Scientific, based in Bainbridge, Georgia, said it would start construction next year and reach full production in 2024. The company would add 400 employees to the 100 it currently employs in Bainbridge.

The announcement comes after Danimer announced a partnership on March 16 to sell biodegradable plastic to the candy unit of Mars Inc. beginning late this year or in early 2022. The Virginia company's Mars Wrigley candy unit said it would start by packaging Skittles candies in the plastic.

Danimer said it would double the size of its planned new factory in Bainbridge to produce 250 million pounds of plastic that uses canola oil as a base material. The company's plastic has been certified as marine biodegradable, meaning it will break down in ocean water.

“I look forward to building on our high growth trajectory as we execute our strategy and continue our fight against one of the world’s biggest environmental problems – plastic waste and pollution," Danimer CEO Stephen E. Croskrey said in a statement.

The company said it plans to build a 2 million square-foot (186,000 square-meter) facility in Bainbridge near its current property. The company said the first half of production would come online in the middle of 2023, with the remainder of production coming online in early 2024. Danimer said it forecasts that it will contract to sell all the production capacity.

The company merged with Live Oak Acquisition Corp. in December, gaining $380 million in cash. Danimer has a plant in Winchester, Kentucky, that it is also expanding. That expansion to an existing plant is projected to enter production early next year.

The company has been based in Bainbridge for more than a decade and makes other bioplastics that are used in food packaging and bottling. Danimer says it holds or is seeking more than 150 patents in more than 20 countries.

Marie Hodge Gordon, spokesperson for the Georgia Department of Economic Development, said final incentives are still being negotiated for what is the largest corporate investment announced in Georgia so far this year. Google and Microsoft have announced major expansions in Atlanta, but haven't named values for their investments.

“Georgia companies like Danimer continue to lead the way toward a green manufacturing future, and we are thrilled to be their partner as they push sustainable solutions forward,” said Georgia Economic Development Commissioner Pat Wilson.

The state will pay an unspecified sum to train workers. Danimer could claim various tax breaks, including an income tax credit allowing it to annually deduct $2,500 per job from state income taxes for five years, as long as workers make at least $28,000 per year. That could be worth $5 million.

The company could also qualify for property tax breaks from Bainbridge and Decatur County.