Bioplastics maker Cereplast Inc. plans to launch a line of resins based on all-natural algae by the end of 2010.
Algae-based resins represent an outstanding opportunity for companies across the plastic supply chain, Cereplast Chairman and CEO Frederic Scheer said in an Oct. 20 news release. We believe that algae [have] the potential to become one of the most important green feedstocks for biofuels, as well as bioplastics.
Cereplast, of Hawthorne, Calif., currently uses corn, tapioca, wheat and potatoes to make its bioplastics.
The firm also compounds Ingeo-brand polylactic-acid bioplastic manufactured by NatureWorks LLC of Minnetonka, Minn.
It's critical to have access to feedstocks not based on starches, Scheer said by phone Oct. 20.
Non-starch feedstocks have less impact on the food chain and are less sensitive to price changes, he said.
Scheer said the algae-based resins could be blended with polypropylene or other standard resins and used in injection molded or thermoformed parts.
Cereplast also is working to use the new products in extrusion applications, he said.
Scheer would not identify what firms would supply Cereplast with the algae needed for future bio-based resins.
Cereplast officials have said they paid particular attention to a pair of recent deals involving algae and oil conglomerates.
ExxonMobil Corp. of Irving, Texas, recently partnered with algae producer Synthetic Genomics Inc. of La Jolla, Calif., in a deal that may be worth more than $300 million.
London-based BP plc recently invested $10 million in algae supplier Martek Biosciences Corp. of Columbia, Md.
Scheer said Cereplast was very encouraged by the ExxonMobil and BP deals.
In addition to its algae-based resin exploration, Cereplast is in the process of finding a toll compounder so the firm can discontinue production at its Hawthorne plant.
Company officials said earlier this year that it is no longer cost-effective for Cereplast to produce its own bioplastic resins.
Scheer said a toll compounder should be in place by the end of 2009, making bioplastics based on Cereplast formulations.
Cereplast's sales for the first half of 2009 were down 26 percent to about $1.5 million.
The company lost $3.2 million in the first half of 2009, after losing $7 million in the same period in 2008.
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