Resin distributor Jamplast Inc. is taking aim at the bioplastics market, with plans for those materials to account for half of the firm's sales within five years.
``Customers are aggressively pursuing green products,'' President John Moisson Jr. said in a Jan. 16 phone interview. ``They want to be able to offer their customers a green product at the retail level. They don't want to be left behind.''
Ellisville, Mo.-based Jamplast has been the exclusive North American distributor since 2006 for plant-based polylactide resin made by NatureWorks LLC of Minnetonka, Minn. Jamplast followed that deal last fall by signing on to distribute starch-based bioplastics for Cereplast Inc. of Hawthorne, Calif.
In 2007, bioplastics accounted for about 10 percent of the 30 million pounds of resin that Jamplast distributed - but Moisson said that number is expected to rise quickly.
``We've got people calling who want to start projects right away,'' he said. ``They want samples and information, and we can send them parts made out of PLA and other biopolymers.''
Moisson added that Jamplast hopes to add other firms to its stable of bioplastics suppliers this year. Currently, the majority of Jamplast's business is in a variety of commodity and engineering resins in prime, wide-spec, regrind, reclaim and recycled form.
In addition to its bioplastics offerings, Jamplast is a licensed distributor of weatherable polymers from Lucite Inc., acrylic styrene acrylonitrile from LG Chem and acrylic resin from Plaskolite Inc.
For NatureWorks, Jamplast focuses on sales to compounders and injection molders. Moisson said Jamplast has experience in those areas, which allows NatureWorks to focus on sales into the food-packaging, fibers and blow molding markets.
``We're involved with durables for everything but automotive and medical,'' Moisson said. ``We're also familiar with consumer durables in areas like tools and appliance.'' Recent bioplastics products made by Jamplast customers include clothes hangers and seat backs for office chairs.
Jamplast began handling wide-spec material from NatureWorks shortly after that firm opened its plant in Blair, Neb., in 2003. Moisson knew NatureWorks executives such as Dennis McGrew and Snehal Desai from past work experience at Dow Chemical Co. Moisson worked at Dow for 12 years before launching Jamplast with his wife, Carolyn, in 1994.
The relationship with NatureWorks grew, resulting in the prime contract going to Jamplast in 2006.
``Focusing on biopolymers kind of distinguishes us and allows us to differentiate ourselves,'' Moisson said. ``We're also able to supply additives specifically for biopolymer use.''
Jamplast handles its distribution from a 75,000-square-foot warehouse in Mount Vernon, Ind., and also uses 22 public warehouses across the United States and Canada. The Mount Vernon site includes storage, bulk transfer, packaging, blending and grinding/shredding capabilities. Jamplast also employs eight sales reps.
``Our goal is to walk in to any customer and have a basket of biopolymer products for them,'' Moisson added. ``As biopolymers mature, the market is going to need distribution just like traditional plastics did.''