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Who is Kaneka?

Who is Kaneka and Kaneka Biopolymers? The complete history and all you need to know about Kaneka including their circular economy and bioplastics portfolio.

In Short

Kaneka is a Japanese chemical company with a wide range of business activities such as chemicals, functional plastics, expandable plastics & products, foodstuffs products, life-science products, electronic products and synthetic fibers.


  • 1949 – Kaneka is created in Osaka as a spin off from the Kanegafuchi Spinning Company.
  • 1950 – Mass production of PVC (Kanevinyl).
  • 1953 – Large scale production of margarine.
  • 1965 – Production of expandable polystyrene (Kanepearl).
  • 1968 – Europe office and New York office. Production of chlorinated PVC.
  • 1970 – Production of extruded polystyrene foam board (Kanelite Foam).
  • 1973 – Production of polyethylene foam.
  • 1985 – Production of polypropylene foam.
  • 2011 – Production of bio-based polymer with soft and heat-resistant properties.
  • 2017 – Granted a certificate of biodegradability in marine environment for biodegradable plastics.

Kaneka Biopolymers

Kaneka Biopolymers is a division of Kaneka Corporation and was created out of the need to provide an alternative solution to single-use plastics. The Kaneka Biopolymers brand is Kaneka PHBH™. It’s a plant-based biopolymer.

Kaneka PHBH

Kaneka PHBH are biopolymers in the family of PHAs or Polyhydroxyalkanoates.

Kaneka PHBH grades are polyesters produced by microorganisms. Kaneka PHBH grades are produced via the fermentation of plants. Kaneka’s PHBH is made from plant oil and fat, and other ingredients. Kaneka uses Cupriavidus necator bacteria to produce their PHBH.

Kaneka PHBH combines 2 monomers together: 3-Hydroxyhexanoate with 3-Hydroxybutyrate to make different types of PHBH.

kaneka phbh

The concentration of each monomer during the polymerization process will create a different type of copolymer that can lead to different types of applications. This technique allows the creation of multiple PHBH grades that will mimic a wide variety of plastic shapes.

Kaneka PHBH is marine biodegradable, soil biodegradable and compostable.

Kaneka PHBH has superior advantages compared with other biopolymers.

biodegradability of kaneka PHBH
Biodegradability of PHBH™ 60m film in soil @ 30°c

kaneka biopolymers

Kaneka PHBH production

Kaneka started producing PHBH at their Takasago headquarters in Japan in 2011. The production capacity was 1.000 metric tonnes per year.

They scaled up their Takasago plant to an annual capacity of 5.000 tonnes / year in December 2019 and they’re considering increasing PHBH production to 20.000 tons in the future.

Read more: Kaneka Builds 5.000 tons PHBH Plant

Kaneka PHBH Applications

PHBH bioplastics is exported to Europe to make bags. PHBH is also used to make agricultural mulch films, straws, cutlery, food containers and packaging materials.

Kaneka and Shiseido are working together to develop cosmetic containers.

In the future, Kaneka may want to explore the production of bottles and containers, auto interiors and electrical equipment.

Kaneka Today

  • 2018 Annual Sales: 5.4 billion USD
  • 2019 Employees: 10,571
  • HQ: Tokyo, Japan

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