Bioplastics maker Metabolix Inc. has received a $350,000 federal grant that will be used to develop new, biodegradable resins for blow molded bottles.
The Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (formerly the Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service) is providing the grant to Cambridge, Mass.-based Metabolix.
The award will fund a program designed to produce advanced formulations of bioplastic for use on commercial-scale equipment running at manufacturing speed, Metabolix co-founder and chief scientific officer Oliver Peoples said in an Oct. 7 news release.
He added that the high density polyethylene used for blow molded bottles, containers and other products more than 4 billion pounds per year, according to the American Chemistry Council is suitable for replacement by bio-based, biodegradable materials.
The program funded by the USDA grant specifically seeks to improve formulations of Met-abolix's Mirel-brand bioplastic with the necessary physical properties required for blow molding parts at industrial speed, Peoples said.
Mirel is a corn sugar-based polyhydroxyalkanoate resin that is biodegradable when disposed of in natural soil and water environments or in industrial composting facilities.
The USDA institute focuses on investing in science and solving critical issues impacting people's daily lives and the nation's future, according to the release.
The award announcement adds to an already busy year for Metabolix.
Telles, the joint venture between Metabolix and agricultural products giant Archer Daniels Midland Co. of Decatur, Ill., will open its first commercial-scale Mirel plant by the end of the year.
The plant will have annual capacity of 110 million pounds and will be located next to an ADM corn mill in Clinton, Iowa.
In June, at NPE2009, Metabolix also announced development deals with Atlanta-based consumer products maker Newell Rubbermaid Inc., injection molder Nypro Inc. of Clinton, Mass., and Pawtucket, R.I.-based compounder Teknor Apex Co.
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