Eastman Chemical Co. is pulling out of the biodegradable polymers race with the sale of its Eastar Bio copolyester business to Novamont SpA, a European bioplastics leader.
Eastman of Kingsport, Tenn., which introduced Eastar Bio copolyester in 1997, said the business is no longer a core part of its global specialty plastics operations. Terms were not disclosed.
``The emerging biodegradable industry is exciting in market development activities; however, only limited synergies exist with markets currently served by Eastman,'' explained Phil Griswold, vice president and general manager for Eastman's specialty plastics business.
Novamont ``is a better natural owner of this innovative technology'' as a world leader in biodegradable polymers, he said.
Eastar Bio copolyester, which is manufactured in Hartlepool, England, has been used to make single-use disposable packaging, protective packaging, compost bags, organic-waste bin liners and food-service cutlery.
Novamont of Novara, Italy, was founded as a research center in 1989 to develop environmentally friendly chemical products.
The company produces a range of bioplastic products based on agricultural raw material with the trade name Mater-Bi.
Novamont runs three lines with capacity of 44 million pounds per year at its plant in Terni, Italy. In all it employs more than 100 and had annual sales of around $34 million in 2003.
The company's biodegradable materials are used for film and foam, and in extrusion, thermoforming and injection molded products. Industrial applications for Mater-Bi are in agriculture, hygiene, organic-food packaging, food service, and as additives in rubber.
``The acquisition of Eastman's Eastar Bio copolyester technology, including excellent manufacturing skills and an extensive patent portfolio, represents an important strategic breakthrough for Novamont,'' said Novamont Managing Director Catia Bastioli.
``It will permit us to widen the range of Novamont's proprietary products and speed the internal development of polyesters from renewable resources.''