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Chesterfield factory that planned to make plastics from natural material moved out of state; equipment being auctioned off

Chesterfield factory that planned to make plastics from natural material moved out of state; equipment being auctioned off

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A factory that set up operations in Chesterfield County in 2018 to make plastics and packaging from a naturally occurring material called Chitin has moved out of Virginia.

About $9 million in assets at the plant, including food-grade industrial equipment, are now being auctioned off in an online sale being held by Motley’s Asset Disposition Group.

The company, Mari Signum, moved in 2018 into a former DuPont Co. plant on Shell Road and started to equip the plant to make a biodegradable substitute for plastics by extracting Chitin, a naturally occurring polymer found in the exoskeletons of arthropods such as shrimp, crabs and insects.

Mari Signum, formerly a subsidiary of Rockville, Md.-based Global Blue Technologies, was acquired early in 2019 by Ross Group PLC, a United Kingdom-based company listed on the London Stock Exchange. The acquisition included several other businesses held within a company called Archipelago Aquaculture Group.

Ross Group has since restructured the company, including forming a joint venture with 525 Solutions, an Alabama company founded by the inventor of the extraction process of Chitin.

As part of the restructuring, the company moved the operations to Alabama, said Barry Richard Pettitt, chairman of Ross Group.

The company decided that moving the assets at the Chesterfield plant would be prohibitively expensive and reached an agreement with the landlord to auction off the assets, Pettitt said.

“RGP [Ross Group] is confident that this restructuring and relocation of resources is the best possible path forward for AAG [Archipelago Aquaculture Group], especially given the exceptional COVID circumstances to date,” Pettitt said in a statement.

Items in the auction include refrigerated dryers, boilers, microwave generators and centrifuge units.

The online auction began Wednesday and is expected to go until Tuesday.

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