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04 | 2008

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Applications Mirel

Applications Mirel Bioplastics is Chosen by Labcon North America for New Laboratory Liquid Handling System, a Case Study Real World Solutions Challenge For over 40 years Labcon North America has been designing and manufacturing quality disposable plastics for laboratories all over the world. Traditionally focused on delivering disposable plastics combined with high levels of quality and customer service, Labcon’s concentration helped them accelerate growth during a time when the industry feared contamination from microscopic traces of chemicals possibly left behind on washed glassware. Article contributed by Daniel Gilliland, Business Development Director, Telles, Lowell , Massachusetts, USA Located in Petaluma, California, USA, Labcon is a leading provider of disposable products to laboratories worldwide, supplying more than 800 products and manufacturing over a billion units a year. Labcon’s president Jim Happ recognized a growing concern both inside the company and from the industry at-large that the use and disposal of traditional plastics is just too wasteful in terms of landfill space, consumption of petroleum, and generation of greenhouse gases. So in 1995, Labcon embraced the concepts of sustainable packaging as part of its corporate mission and began to develop products unlike anything else the laboratory industry has seen – new products using less packaging, recycled plastics, and refillable packages. Labcon previously supplied conventional plastic trays that were thrown away or reclaimed through Labcon’s recycle program. But that was not enough to build a truly sustainable business model. Jim knew they had to go further down this path and introduce a more sustainable product line. With regulations and customer demand pull through for greener supplies, Labcon began to visualize a new product line, coupled with a composting program to complement this new product initiative. However, the performance requirements included an intrinsic mold flow design and high temperature autoclave sterilization step - both were a stretch for typical bioplastics. Cost Effective Solution In 2007, George Kipouras, a business development manager for Telles, the joint venture of Metabolix Inc. and Archer Daniels Midland Company that produces Mirel bioplastics (PHA), responded to Labcon’s need to find an alternative to conventional plastics. Working closely with Labcon’s marketing and product development teams, George made them aware of new technology about to emerge and managed the trials on Labcon’s existing processing equipment to prove feasibility. 14 bioplastics MAGAZINE [04/08] Vol. 3

Applications Labcon selected Mirel for its improved physical properties of heat and chemical resistance, durability, and dimensional stability. Mirel was able to pass through the 120°C autoclave process with no dimensional changes. Because of Mirel’s high modulus, Labcon was able to use less material in production than when using polypropylene, thus partially offsetting the cost differential of Mirel over conventional materials. Six months later, Telles entered into an agreement to supply Mirel bioplastic resin to Labcon for the Eclipse (formerly Pagoda) pipette reloading system trays (see photo). Sustainable Results The new Labcon Eclipse reloading system utilizes Mirel for the injection molded tray that holds the pipettes precisely in place. In announcing the sales agreement through a press release, Telles VP of Sales and Marketing Bob Findlen said: “Processing this very complicated part demonstrates the versatility and ease with which Mirel can be used for injection molding applications. Until today, bioplastics in general have had limited capability in injection molding applications.” Mirel is a high performance, heat resistant PHA bioplastic material that can transcend into other dimensions as it functions like an engineering thermoplastic. Findlen sees potential in other business equipment markets including electronics, business machines, and cosmetics, and for replacing polycarbonate, PVC, ABS, nylon and polyester in many applications. Mirel is biobased and truly biodegradable, which means the Labcon product tray, can now be composted either in industrial compost systems or in a low cost, ‘home compost’ system at the end of its useful life. Labcon can now offer customers the opportunity to lower their carbon footprint, and customers have responded that they’ll make the switch over to new products made from renewable resources. Labcon envision’s many more products will utilize Mirel. Antimicro_ad.qxd:Layout 1 15/7/08 13:51 Page 1 Regulations for Antimicrobials Understanding and assessing the future regulatory landscape for antimicrobials in consumer products OnedayIntertechPirasummit Wednesday8October2008 RussHillHotel,NrGatwickAirport,London,UK Visit us online: Reasons to attend Hear a case study from leading chemical supplier Devan Chemicals on how regulations for antimicrobials will work in practice Understand the implications of using antimicrobials in packaging and other food contact applications Learn first hand from the EPA about current and future US regulatory considerations Get detailed and comprehensive advise from specialist law firm McKenna, Long & Aldrige Explore the interrelation between REACH and BPD Assess scenarios for growth in antimicrobials in context of future regulations Meet with key contacts to develop future business relationships Including presentations from: Media partner: bioplastics MAGAZINE [04/08] Vol. 3 15

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