Biobent Polymers has entered the bioplastics market with materials that combine soy meal with polyethylene and polypropylene.
The resulting materials sold under the Panacea brand can reduce the amount of petroleum-based input as much as 40 percent by using soybean-based meal in its place, officials with Marysville, Ohio-based Biobent said.
Biobent is a unit of Univenture Inc., a maker of media packaging, including numerous plastic products. Univenture, also based in Marysville, had been working with bioplastics for at least 10 years when it was contacted in 2009 by the Ohio Soybean Council and Battelle Memorial Institute, a research giant based in Columbus, Ohio.
Battelle and the soybean council had developed the process to incorporate soybean meal with conventional plastic resins in amounts of 10-40 percent and were looking for a partner to produce and market the materials.
Univenture was a natural fit because of our experience with bioplastics, said strategy and operations chief Keith Masavage in a Jan. 25 phone interview. Univenture also had recent ecofriendly experience with Algaeventure Systems, an algae tech- nology firm that it had spun off.
PE- and PP-based grades of Panacea will be priced competitively not just with other bioplastics, but with standard resins as well, officials said. Panacea materials also won't sacrifice performance as some bioplastics have done, according to the company.
Biobent will work with outside compounders to produce the Panacea materials. McCann Plastics Inc. of North Canton, Ohio, already has produced some material for the firm. In addition to PE and PP, a polystyrene-based Panacea grade is being developed, Masavage said.
Univenture also will use some Panacea materials in-house in its line of media packaging products. The firm already has used the material in UniKeep-brand binders, a product that won an R&D 100 Award from R&D magazine in 2009.
Biobent already has met with major consumer companies including Procter & Gamble Co. of Cincinnati and Avery Dennison Corp. of Pasadena, Calif., about using Panacea in their products. Cost also is playing a role in winning new customers, Masavage said, especially with prices of standard resins on the rise.
Customers want something that can replace a high-priced resin with a [soy] material that can sell for 5 or 10 or 15 cents a pound, he said, That could produce a savings of 20-25 cents per pound.
Masavage added that Biobent is working on three new research initiatives for Panacea: improving clarity, increasing soy-based content to 50 percent and incorporating non-soy agricultural products such as algae or corn strippings.
We want to find ways to use what people are throwing out, he said.
Univenture was founded in 1988 by entrepreneur Ross Youngs. The firm and Youngs have won numerous industry awards.