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News/People Good

News/People Good prospects for Metabolix About a year ago, we reported that ADM terminated Telles, its joint venture with Metabolix. Now, one year later, Metabolix seems to be on a promising track to success again. bioplastics MAGAZINE recently spoke with Rick Eno, Metabolix’s president and CEO. In early 2012, Metabolix decided to continue its activities in bioplastics, as it’s a fantastic market with a lot of growth opportunities, Eno pointed out. He noted that Metabolix has a unique technology and a very high-quality product – Mirel, a PHA biopolymer that’s biobased and biodegradable. The Company bought the remaining Mirel inventory from ADM and started looking for an alternative manufacturing option for the biopolymer. In late July, Metabolix announced a relationship with Antibióticos in Leon, Spain. “Currently, we are in the midst of a technology transfer. We have educated Antibioticos and they are in the construction process preparing for start-up,” Eno said. Antibióticos will start production of demonstration quantities of Mirel early this year. Commercial-scale production, with a capacity of up to 10,000 tonnes per year, is scheduled to commence later in 2013. Mirel PHA made from EU sugar Until production of Mirel ramps back up at Antibióticos, Metabolix is selling from an existing inventory of over five million pounds (more than 2,000 tonnes), of various grades and qualities of PHA that was produced in the Telles plant in Clinton, Iowa. Customers have regained confidence and sales figures grew by 85 percent in Q3 over Q2/2012. However, in order to extend the range of inventory supply, Metabolix has started to compound or blend the PHA with other resins to create new products. The compounding is done by European partner companies, and the products will be shipped and exported to customers around the world. The fermentation, however, will be done by Antibióticos as the initial commercial production partner of Metabolix. While the feedstock for the Telles plant in Iowa was corn sugar from the ADM corn mill, the raw material for PHA production in Spain will come from various corn or sugar beet distributors in the EU. “Antibióticos has more than 50 years of experience in purchasing and converting sugars,” Eno said. New grade of Mvera film resin Within the Mirel family of PHA-based products, Mvera is specifically developed for the compostable bag market. It consists of Mirel PHA and other 8 bioplastics MAGAZINE [01/13] Vol. 8

News/People biodegradable polymers “in a proprietary formulation that meets the requirements of the compostable bag market,” according to Eno. Just recently, Metabolix introduced the next generation of Mvera, B5008. The new product leverages the existing inventory of Mirel in an effective way, and it offers better performance compared to the B5002 grade that it is replacing. “It will certainly strengthen our reputation as a supplier of a high-quality product that meets the needs of the market,” said Eno. Additives for PVC Asked why Metabolix is now developing additives for PVC, Eno explained, “In the post-Telles phase, we carefully looked at why customers were buying our Mirel PHA. And certainly, one reason was the biodegradability. But we also noticed that customers were buying Mirel because of its use as a performance enhancer, once blended with other polymers. Some customers didn’t necessarily consider the biodegradation characteristics when selecting Mirel.” Metabolix subsequently developed a series of products that are very easily miscible with PVC. Some new PHA formulations have been developed to improve plasticization, impact and process modification of rigid and flexible PVC, “with reduced migration concerns,” as Eno pointed out. One of these new products is I6001, and is 85 percent biobased. It was launched this past December. Other polymers, such as PLA, can be improved with the addition of Mirel PHAs. Bio-BDO and acrylic acid In addition to its biopolymers business, Metabolix is also further pursuing the development of other biobased chemicals. C4 chemicals such as bio-BDO (butanediol), for example, as well as the lesser-known bio-GBL (gamma butrylactone) are chemical intermediates used in the production of plastics (such as PBT), resins, solvents, auto parts, spandex, fabrics, fibers and personal care products. Eno noted that Metabolix has also “been successful in making ultra-pure biobased C4 chemical products.” And finally, Metabolix is also active in the field of C3 chemicals, including biobased acrylic acid. “We have biobased acrylic acid product samples in the market,” said Eno, “and we are continuing to innovate around that as well, for example, with butyl acrylate, which is being used in applications like paint and coatings.” Concluding the talk with bioplastics MAGAZINE, Eno said, “it wasn’t easy, but we are quite satisfied with where we stand today. We are now very much focused on getting the product launched, and are focused on the quality of the product. We have great technical resources and an outstanding team focused on advancing the product’s quality. We are truly looking forward to and continuing the progress we are making in 2013.” MT organized by 17. - 19.10.2013 Messe Düsseldorf, Germany Bioplastics in Packaging Bioplastics Business Breakfast B 3 PLA, an Innovative Bioplastic Injection Moulding of Bioplastics Subject to changes Call for Papers now open Contact: Dr. Michael Thielen ( At the World’s biggest trade show on plastics and rubber: K’2013 in Düsseldorf bioplastics will certainly play an important role again. On three days during the show from Oct 17 - 19, 2013 (!) biopolastics MAGAZINE will host a Bioplastics Business Breakfast: From 8 am to 12 noon the delegates get the chance to listen and discuss highclass presentations and benefit from a unique networking opportunity. The trade fair opens at 10 am. bioplastics MAGAZINE [01/13] Vol. 8 9

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