Entry Point

A new line of bioplastic readies to hit the market
By Bryan Sims | March 18, 2011

A new line of bioplastic products is set to hit the market soon as Telles, a joint venture between Metabolix Inc. and Archer Daniels Midland Co., and British Columbia, Canada-based Lakeside Plastics Ltd. plan to launch a compostable bag product line based on Mvera B5002, a compostable film product made from Metabolix’s trademarked brand Mirel, a family of biodegradable, biobased natural plastics. Lakeside will purchase Mvera film grade under a supply agreement with Telles for large-volume applications, including yard waste and consumer kitchen compost bags. Specific terms of the contract weren’t disclosed.

“We are very excited with the superior performance of Mvera B5002 film in terms of strength, rapid composting ability, and that it meets or exceeds ASTM standard D6400 for compostable plastics,” says Stuart MacDonald, chief operating officer of Lakeside. “As we commit to manufacturing compostable bags for the burgeoning North American market, we are confident in doing so with Mvera B5002 that our product line will have wide appeal to the consumer and industrial compost bag segments alike.”
Metabolix Inc. and agrigiant ADM began commercial production of Mirel bioplastic at their 110 million pound per year commercial facility in Clinton, Iowa, in March 2010. Metabolix and ADM first announced the formation of Telles and the launch of Mirel bioplastics in April 2007.

“Through Lakeside, we are bringing a tough and faster composting film material to the market,” explains Telles General Manager Bob Engle. “Mvera B5002 film for compost bags has the strength that consumers are asking for. With the rapid composting and D6400 certification to a thickness of 288 micrometers (11 milimicrons), Mvera is an excellent material choice for both consumer and commercial organic waste diversion needs.”

Mirel is produced via a microbial fermentation process. The base polymer Polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) is produced within the microbial cells and harvested, according to Metabolix. The company has developed industrial strains of the cells, which can efficiently transform natural sugars into PHA. The recovered polymer is made into pellets to produce Mirel bioplastics products. Mirel resins have the ability to biodegrade in natural soil and water environments, in addition to home and industrial composting systems.

According to a report published by PIRA International in December, the global market for bioplastic packaging demand is forecast to achieve a 24.9 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2010-‘15 and slowing to 18.3 percent in the five years to 2020. Further, the report notes that, from 2010, bioplastic technology is expected to change with the commercialization of bioplastics produced directly from natural or genetically modified organisms and the introduction of nonbiodegradable, bioderived polyethylene (PE). PIRA expects these materials will account for a quarter of total bioplastic packaging market demand by 2020. PHA is forecasted to achieve a CAGR of 41 percent and biobased PE a staggering 83 percent over the period.

—Bryan Sims