Cereplast reports progress with algae-derived bioplastics

By Chris Hanson | September 25, 2013

Cereplast Inc. has announced advancements in research and development to bring a sustainable and cost effective process to produce algae bioplastic resins to the market.

Unlike other algae growers that use sugar as a source of carbon, Cereplast aims to produce bioplastics that use an ingredient-rich algae source, which has no effect on the food chain, explained Frederic Scheer, CEO of Cereplast.   

Algaeplast, a subsidiary of Cereplast, is developing the algae-based bioplastics by using post-industrial processes. The algae food and nutrients originate from carbon containing chemicals, such as carbon dioxide, and nutrients within waste streams from water treatment operations or air emissions from industrial applications, including power plants, manufacturing plants and water treatment facilities, explained Kelvin Okamoto, chief technology officer of Cereplast.

In addition to the lack of effects on the food chain, Okamoto added other benefits of this type of bioplastic include a reduced carbon footprint with lower global warming potential than traditional petroleum-based plastics and chemical byproducts from industrial applications are converted into beneficial chemicals.

Currently, Algaeplast is working on several development programs in process and has four demonstration grades of algae in polypropylene with algae biomass contents ranging from 15 to 51 percent; however, during the current research and development phase, one of the biggest challenges is to increase algae supply concurrently with Cereplast’s growing needs as it moves to commercialization, said Okamoto. He added that although algae-based bioplastics are still in the early development stage, customer inquiries are being taken with the explanation that when work proceeds to commercialization, Algaeplast will follow up with them.