The Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. announced Jan. 3 that it is forming a new group to promote plastic as a way to store and handle biopharmaceutical products.
The new group, the Bio-Process Systems Alliance, comprises manufacturers of what are essentially sophisticated, industrial-sized plastic bags that store sterile powders and liquids used to make drugs and other products.
Plastic is a relative newcomer in that market, holding about 10 percent of a $1.5 billion industry dominated by stainless-steel tanks, said SPI President Bill Carteaux.
Washington-based SPI said the group will focus on growing plastics' role in the market, advocating standards for single-use systems and educating customers, regulators and nongovernmental organizations about the materials. The plastic bags are used once and discarded, while stainless-steel tanks are reused.
Carteaux said the group will have to deal with arguments that its products are throw-away. But Donna Dempsey, an SPI staffer who will be executive director of the new group, said the plastic bags offer environmental advantages because the stainless-steel tanks have to be cleaned with harsh chemicals.
As well, she said the plastic bags can speed time to market and result in less cross contamination from materials in the steel tanks. The bags are made of a range of materials, from commodity resins to silicones to fluoropolymers, often in proprietary, multilayer designs, Dempsey said.
Carteaux said it is too soon to say what the group's budget will be. Rick Sullivan of HyClone Laboratories Inc., a Logan, Utah, unit of Fisher International Biosciences Inc., is chairman, and Lisa Krallis-Nixon, of Charter Medical Ltd. in Winston-Salem, N.C., is vice chairwoman. Other companies in the group include Alfa Laval AB, Dow Corning Corp., Stedim SA, Millipore Corp. and TC Tech.
Carteaux said some of the group's members are new to SPI and approached the group because of the work other SPI units had been doing reacting to government concerns about waste and litter from retail plastic bags.