Magna partners with Italian company on bioplastics for vehicles

By Magna International Inc. | February 14, 2014

Magna International Inc., a leading global automotive supplier, and bio-on, an Italian intellectual property company, have signed a cooperation agreement to start exclusive research and development activities on the use of bioplastics for the automotive industry.

Bio-on has developed a new kind of bio plastic created through the use of naturally occurring bacteria which feed off sugar beet by-products. In the process of fermentation, the material is turned into plastic (polyhydroxyalkanoate or PHA). The result is fully biodegradable in water and soil, an environmentally friendly product that does not rely on food as a natural resource and could provide alternatives to conventional plastics for the automotive industry.

Magna, through its interiors operating unit, is pairing its automotive know-how with bio-on's chemical expertise to research how production of this natural polyester product can be elevated to an industrial, cost-effective scale. Additionally, the two companies will test and evaluate how bio-on bio plastics will perform in different standard industry processes such as thermoforming. Magna Interiors will utilize its facility in Liberec, Czech Republic, for joint testing.

"Our material has already demonstrated great potential in diverse industries and we now want to apply it to the automotive sector as well," says Marco Astorri, CEO and co-founder of bio-on. "Through this partnership, bio-on hopes to contribute significantly to meeting the global need for a greener future mobility, with lower environmental impact."

"As a leading global automotive supplier, Magna is leveraging its manufacturing expertise to partner with bio-on to deliver a potential game-changing innovation to the industry," said Albert Lidauer, President Magna Interiors Global.  "We are excited about the possibilities this cooperation offers us to further support our customers in pursuit of environmentally friendly vehicles."