vor 8 Jahren

05 | 2010

  • Text
  • Bioplastics
  • Materials
  • Products
  • Plastics
  • Renewable
  • Biodegradable
  • Packaging
  • Sustainable
  • Biobased
  • Applications

Personality Mark

Personality Mark Verbruggen bM: What is your education? bM: When and where were you born? MV: I was born in a little town close to Antwerp, Belgium, in July 1959. bM: Where do you live today and since when? MV: I’ve lived in the US for nearly 10 years now. MV: I received a PhD in aerospace engineering from the University of Delft, the Netherlands, although I never worked in an aerospace company. bM: What is your professional function today? MV: I am president and CEO of NatureWorks LLC. bM: How did you ‘come to’ bioplastics? MV: In 2008, I was president of North American carbon fiber operations for Teijin, a shareholder in NatureWorks. The managing board of directors asked me to become CEO of NatureWorks. Bioplastics and carbon fibers are both fast growing businesses that need very large asset bases - and of course big plants. So I joined NatureWorks in the summer of 2008. Teijin left the joint venture a year later because NatureWorks no longer fit into its business portfolio. bM: What do you consider more important: ‘biobased‘ or ‘biodegradable‘? MV: Actually, what we consider most important is first enabling a compelling family of consumer products which perform well in use - that has to be a given! Now, with that established, from an environmental point of view, biobased (the renewable aspect, and the ultra low carbon footprint that this yields) is most important to governments, brand owners, retailers, consumers and environmental organizations because it’s a common denominator across every single market segment we sell into. Compostability is important, but secondary, and much specific to certain end-markets. Ingeo is compostable, which makes it ideal for food contaminated service ware and packaging for instance. bM: What is your biggest achievement (in terms of bioplastics) so far? MV: Simply put, it’s the diversity of the end markets into which we sell Ingeo – and in turn, what this means about the strength of our business – as evidenced by NatureWorks coming out of the global recession in better financial shape than when the downturn began. To realize that we kept all our customers on board through the economic downturn is a clear proof point of the value proposition offered by Ingeo plastics and fibers. bM: What are your biggest challenges for the future? MV: Our biggest challenge short term is to create economy of scale throughout the value chain. On the upstream side, we are proud to have a 140.000 tons Ingeo capacity, but it is even more important today to work on the economy of scale of the downstream processes, the compounding and converting (film, nonwovens etc), thus to achieve competitive costing all the way thru to finished consumer products. In the longer run, the challenge will in bringing to bear different feedstocks (e.g. incorporating cellulosic feedstocks into the biopolymer production in an economic way), and in sorting out what the 2 nd and 3 rd generation of biopolymers will look like. On this last point, I always emphasize that NatureWorks is not a ‘One-Trick-Pony’ i.e. Ingeo will not represent ‘PLA-only’ and NatureWorks, will look different in 2020. bM: What is your family status? MV: I am happily married to my wife Stephanie Balest. When we first met, she found my last name impossible to pronounce so she decided to keep her maiden name. She lives in Knoxville, Tennessee, where she runs two restaurants. We have no children, making our weekends a little easier. bM: What is your favourite movie? MV: Comedy: The Big Lebowski by the Coen brothers in 1998. bM: What is your favourite book? MV: I do not really have one due to lack of time - but I enjoy reading The New York Times, which is my connection to the world outside bioplastics. bM: What is your favourite (or your next) vacation location? MV: While we would love to spend more time in Europe, we usually cannot spend more than 4 or 5 days together for a vacation. Then we really enjoy going to Florida or the Bahamas - and we strictly stay away from telephones! bM: What do you eat for breakfast on a Sunday? MV: Traditionally American with a slight European touch. Growing up in Belgium, we often had soft-boiled eggs for breakfast as well as lots of chocolate. Up to this day, I stick with both for my Sunday breakfast. If I can be in Knoxville for the weekend, Stephanie makes the greatest omelettes bM: What is your ‘slogan’? MV: FOCUS - see, keep and travel a clear and straight path towards the big picture! bM: Thank you very much. MT 56 bioplastics MAGAZINE [05/10] Vol. 5

bioplastics MAGAZINE ePaper