Concentrates supplier Plastimin LLC has found fertile soil for bioplastic-based compounds.
Early next year, Carrollton, Texas-based Plastimin will add compounds based on Mirel-brand bioplastic to a lineup that already includes compounds based on BASF Corp.'s Ecoflex and NatureWorks LLC's bioplastics. Mirel is produced by Metabolix Inc., which has worked with Plastimin and Heritage Plastics Inc. to create bioplastic-based concentrates for film applications.
Plastimin distributes those and other materials for concentrates maker Heritage Plastics of Picayune, Miss. Heritage and Carrollton-based bag extruder Heritage Bag Co. both are owned by Carl Allen and his son, Carl Allen Jr. The Allens also own a minority stake in Plastimin.
Using bioplastic-based compounds is a way to save money and the environment, Plastimin President Frank Ruiz said in a recent telephone interview.
Instead of finished products going into a landfill, they can go into a compost, he added.
Under typical conditions, products made with the bioplastic compounds sold by Plastimin will dissolve within 60 days. Under certain conditions, that time span can be decreased to 45 days, the company claims.
Plastimin opened its doors in 2005 as a minority business led by Ruiz, who is of Puerto Rican descent. Ruiz owns a majority stake in Plastimin and remains a technical consultant for both Heritage Plastics and Heritage Bag, which he joined in 1986. Plastimin employs five and expects to finish 2009 with sales of $20 million.
Plastimin focuses its marketing efforts on companies looking to do business with minority suppliers. Although most of its work is in distribution, Plastimin does operate a single extrusion line making calcium carbonate concentrates at a Heritage plant in Picayune.
In 2009, Plastimin generated about 10 percent of its sales from biodegradable products. Ruiz said that amount is expected to increase in 2010.
The best thing to drive acceptance of green products is economics, especially in areas like New England where there are high tipping fees [for waste removal], he explained. Availability of composting can save money, especially for businesses like grocery stores that have very thin profit margins.
In the last five years, the whole game has changed for green products, Ruiz added. People either became desperate or were willing to change. We've found a lot less reluctance to use these products in the film market. But some people are still concerned about market position and are afraid to change until there's price pressure.
Sales of standard calcium carbonate concentrates also are increasing, leading Heritage Plastics to add a new continuous mixing line at its pant in Sylacauga, Ala., earlier this year.
The concentrates typically are added to polyethylene, polypropylene or other resins at levels between 10 percent and 30 percent, allowing customers to manufacture stronger products faster and at a lower cost, according to the company.
Plastimin is looking to add two employees in the near future. Plastimin and Heritage each are continuing to spend on research and development activities so that we're ready when the economy turns around, Ruiz said.
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