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Beauty & Healthcare PHBV

Beauty & Healthcare PHBV for Beauty and Healthcare Applications Thin Section Microscope Picture Showing PHBV polymer within the cells of the microorganism Article contributed by Dr. Jim Lunt V.P. Sales and Marketing Tianan Biologic Wayzata, Minnesota, USA PHBV (Poly Hydroxy Butyrate co Valerate, a polymer from the PHA family ) is produced by Tianan Biologic through the fermentation of sugar derived from non-genetically modified corn starch. Tianan Biologic, world leader in the production of PHBV, purchases native corn starch and converts it ‘in house’ to glucose. The microbes convert this glucose, plus a small amount of propionic acid, to PHBV polymer which they store in their cells as a food reserve. At the termination of the fermentation process the PHBV can actually comprise upwards of 80% of their body weight. The polymeric PHBV powder is extracted using only water at a low temperature. However, it is not a new biopolymer. In the 1990’s, the British chemical conglomerate ICI, manufactured and sold PHBV under the trade name BIOPOL. Its first major use was for containers sold to distributors in both Europe and the U.S. One of the earliest commercial applications was for hair care products. In Germany, Wella‘s Sanara ® Shampoo was the first PHBV product to hit the shelves. This was a blow-molded bottle with an injection-molded cap. The first USA launch came in 1995 in the form of bottles for Brocanto International‘s Evanesce shampoo. PHBV was also tested for cosmetic containers such as lipsticks and creams. So the utility of PHBV in the beauty and health care market segments has already been demonstrated. In these early years, Japan also showed interest in PHBV. BIOPOL was introduced in 1991 as a container for Ishizawa Kenkyujo‘s Earthic Alga shampoos and conditioners. Before ICI terminated their activities, Biopol was also being considered by three more hair care companies. Kai was considering it for use in disposable razors with a Biopol handle. In the late 1990’s ICI’s BIOPOL PHBV technology was sold to Monsanto (having first been spun off to the ICI subsidiary Zeneca). After approaches into different markets, in 2001 Monsanto subsequently stopped activity on PHBV and sold the remaining intellectual property to Metabolix. The primary reason for this move was the price of manufacture for PHBV. In the 1990’s BIOPOL sold for - per kg. It was anticipated that with improved microorganisms and extraction technology the price could reach a minimum of per kg at commercial scale. Tianan Biologic was convinced it could produce PHBV at a more economical cost. In 1999, they signed a cooperation agreement 12 bioplastics MAGAZINE [02/09] Vol. 4

Beauty & Healthcare PHBV Containers and Closures Bottles made from a PHBV compound provided by PolyOne with the Institute of Microbiology, China Academy of Science, to jointly develop PHBV and in 2003 a 1000 tonnes fermentation plant was constructed in Ningbo, China. By focusing on just PHBV - and combining improvements to the fermentation and aqueous extraction processes - PHBV became commercially available for the first time at just over .50/kg. Tianan Biologic revisited the early strategy of ICI for the market potential for PHBV. It was clear that although pricing was now significantly lower than previous projections, PHBV was still not in the realm of commodity thermoplastics. Tianan adopted a deliberate strategy of seeking for the more value added niche markets. Three general areas were identified: 1. Applications in the Beauty and Health Care Industries Performance in selected applications had already been clearly demonstrated in this marketplace. Attributes such as 100% renewable resource, lack of toxicity, temperature and low moisture vapor transmission are considered value added. In addition, compostability or digestion by microorganisms under a variety of disposal conditions could also be of value if the infrastructure is in place to allow disposal with no negative environmental influence. 2. Applications in higher value-added, semi-durable injection molded products such as thermoformed or injection molded household goods and cosmetic products. For such applications, blends with other compostable materials - where the products may not be 100% renewable but are known to have no negative effects on human health - are considered ideal candidates to both widen the property spectrum of PHBV alone and still achieve a meaningful reduction in the use of 100% petroleum based products. 3. Biobased products for durable applications where biodegradability is not necessary. Today, Tianan has focused in sectors 1 and 2. Significant development is underway in areas such as increasing the valerate content to improve flexibility and processing of the polymer as well as in blends. Food contact approval and non-allergenic reactions in contact with skin are definite requirements for these segments. Especially with view to the Beauty and Healthcare sectors – these, in many ways, bring their own unique challenges. In the Beauty segment alone, container applications span a wide spectrum for shampoos, conditioners, skin care products, healing creams, lipsticks, etc. The development of this market is complex and governed by strict testing requirements. Cosmetics, Personal Care, Health and Beauty Products are subject to stringent FDA regulations and EU Directives that govern their safety. These regulations cover everything from good manufacturing practice (GMP) to human health and safety assessments, packaging and labeling. Penetrating this market can be time consuming and costly, but the industry is known for its sustainability commitment and therefore the drive to replace petroleum based materials with renewable resource based products continues to be extremely positive. Many health care products require sterilization using Gamma, steam or ethylene oxide technologies. Although legislative and testing requirements can be extremely demanding and time consuming, the concern over potentially toxic additives, residual monomers, catalysts and effects on the environment are driving evaluations at an increasing pace. In conclusion, the Beauty and Healthcare Industry was the first to accept PHBV as a technically viable, renewableresource-derived polymer suitable for several applications. This same industry is still showing great promise for PHBV. Reduction in pricing, while not in line with commodity petroleum-based polymers, is acceptable for many of the applications in this sector. PHBV and blends with materials such as PC/ABS are is increasingly price/ performance competitive compared with PC/ABS blends which are and often targeted for use in this Industry bioplastics MAGAZINE [02/09] Vol. 4 13

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