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ADM, Metabolix Introduce Biobased, Biodegradable Plastic

Bioscience company Metabolix and agricultural processor ADM are jointly producing Mirel Natural Plastics, a family of natural plastics that the companies say are biobased, sustainable and completely biodegradable, IndustryWeek reports. Metabolix is currently working with more than 40 prospective customers on more than 60 applications.

The companies say that Mirel can be used as an alternative to petroleum-based plastic in a wide variety of conversion processes, including injection molding, paper coating, cast film and sheet, blown film, and thermoforming.

Metabolix and ADM are commercializing Mirel through a joint venture called Telles, which is now building its first commercial scale plant. This plant is expected to start up in 2008 and will produce Mirel at an annual rate of 110 million pounds.

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4 thoughts on “ADM, Metabolix Introduce Biobased, Biodegradable Plastic

  1. TRUE COMPARISON.
    Is there any Life Cycle Assessment(LCA) showing the comparison between petroleum based plastics, PE or PP, as from drilling the hole for the oil to making the plastics and from the farmer planting the seeds to making the Metabolix plastics or any other similar based product? The comparison should also take into account any fertilizers or what’s so ever being used?

    The comparison might show that the CO2 and other possible impacts could be more negative for the environment by going the Metabolix way instead of looking at changing the technology at the petroleum based plastics.

    Today there is technology existing which could use ethanol or methanol as the raw material for both PE and PP, thus making it renewable. The difference between the Metabolix and the PE, PP is of course the logistic system and the efficiency in the production phase which already today is superior and very cost effective as well. You could also make your LCA much more transparent in order to provide a “true” situation.

    There are truly different views on what is sustainable and it is now time to make comparisons not just in a lab (small scale) but at full scale. Could the Metabolix system and other similar handle that situation? Cost wise? – No! A comparison LCA taking into account all aspects? – I doubt!

  2. A TRUE COMPARISON RESPONSE
    Metabolix has done a true comparison Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) from cradle to factory gate between petroleum based plastics, specifically PE and PP versus Mirel, natural plastic. The petroleum based plastics data comes from (APME) Association of Plastics Manufacturers in Europe. The data on Mirel comes from Metabolix, and includes inputs from planting, fertilizing, harvesting and delivery. We are currently being validated by independent 3rd party analysis which will be complete in Q3 of this year.
    Metabolix is a science based company born of MIT technology. We stand behind our data which shows we reduce petroleum (fossil fuel) usage by 80% and greenhouse gas emissions by two thirds verses the PE and PP plastics discussed. The numbers are even much greater when compared to other petroleum based plastics.
    Substitution of ethanol or methanol as the raw material for plastic would make it sustainable. Mirel is the only plastic which is sustainable, as well as, bio-based, and totally biodegradable. It has passed certification to harmlessly biodegrade in soil and home composts (ASTM 5988/ISO 17556), industrial composts (ASTM D6400/EN13432), wetlands and rivers (ASTM D5209/ISO14852) and even the ocean (ASTM D7081).
    Metabolix plans to do another independent 3rd party review on site when our commercial facility is complete. This information will be disseminated and published in technical publications. Mirel has the broadest range of environmental benefits of any plastic. We hope through our success all plastics will be judged by their environmental responsibility. Improvements in this area are the best way to achieve the widespread change needed to reduce the negative effects of global climate change.
    Sincerely.
    Brian Igoe, Chief Brand Officer, Metabolix

  3. BRIAN IGOE METABOLIX RESPONSE

    Today there is to my knowledge no supplier of so called renewable materials for plastics which could provide a LCA showing a comparison between renewable and non-renewable alternatives as from the “cradle to the grave�.

    Realistically you have to take into account that for any completely new technology to use existing logistics in the whole value chain the probability is normally very small. This has to be taking into account when you are comparing technologies. Just being able to use existing plastics machinery and processes would save a lot of energy and use of raw materials. Recycling of materials is another issue both at the end-user and at the converter. A LCA showing a “true� situation is fundamental for the creditability for any new technology, I believe.

    Renewable materials should be encouraged, but not just because they are renewable.

    When will Metabolix present a LCA showing from the “cradle to the grave�?

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