US Metabolix eyes smaller 10,000 tonne/year bioplastic production

22 February 2012 23:25  [Source: ICIS news]

NEW YORK (ICIS)--US bioplastic producer Metabolix plans to scale down its next bioplastic production capacity to 10,000 tonnes/year as opposed to the 50,000 tonne/year capacity it previously had with its former joint venture partner, Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), the Metabolix’s chief executive said on Wednesday.

ADM had been producing Metabolix’s corn-based polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) plastic called Mirel at ADM’s plant in Clinton, Iowa, which started operations in 2010.

In January this year, ADM announced the termination of the joint venture, citing uncertain financial returns of the project, which leaves Metabolix to look for other options to manufacture its PHA plastic.

Some of the production options on Metabolix's table include looking at existing PHA assets; looking at a toll fermentation facility; building an adjacent biopolymers facility next to an existing fermentation facility via partnership; or investing in their own brownfield or greenfield plant, said Rick Eno, Metabolix chief executive.

He made his comments during a presentation at the Jefferies Global Clean Technology conference in New York City.

“Integration with a chemical manufacturing facility via a partnership is a big possibility as well,” Eno said.

The company said it has a strong cash balance for the next two years.

PHAs are linear polyesters naturally produced by bacterial fermentation of sugar or lipids. 

Eno said it can replace many petroleum-based plastic materials from olefins and styrenics to acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) and polycarbonate (PC)

The Jefferies Clean Technology conference ends on Thursday.

By: Doris de Guzman
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