Biopolymer company Meredian Holdings Group has started up its first commercial scale fermenter, making it the world’s largest producer of polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA) bioplastic, says MHG CEO Paul A. Pereira.
The bioplastic plant, in Bainbridge, Georgia, will help MHG meet the product delivery needs of manufacturing customers worldwide, the company says. The expansion included the ordering and installation of custom equipment that will allow MHG to produce even greater quantities of PHA in the near future.
MHG previously partnered with Tate & Lyle, global provider of specialty ingredients, to test the scalability of Nodax PHA. The production rates and titers achieved exceeded the metrics needed for commercial production viability. This confirmed that MHG’s PHA can be scaled for commercialization.
MHG says its PHA possesses properties that perform equal to, if not better than, most petrochemical plastics. Due to its molecular structure, MHG’s PHA can be custom formulated to create different types of polymers. The PHA can be used to manufacture many items commonly made of petroleum plastics including toys, cups, straws, utensils, single use plastic bags and many other disposable items that are entering the waste streams worldwide.
Because products manufactured from Nodax PHA biodegrade in three months to one year, they provide a solution to plastic pollution and accumulation when used instead of conventional plastic.
MHG’s PHA has been certified to degrade in soil, fresh water, marine water, industrial compost and home compost by Vinçotte International. The PHA is also approved for food substance contact by the FDA.
Biopolymers can displace incumbent petroleum-based plastics in a market exceeding $100 billion, according to an April report from Lux Research.
They face challenges, like inferior mechanical properties and processability, that limit their potential in some high-volume markets like automotive, but their biodegradability can make them a valuable choice in markets such as biomedical and agriculture, according to Comparing the Performance and Addressable Markets for Bio-based Polymers.