The non-profit Horticultural Research Institute has formed a wholly owned, for-profit subsidiary and hopes to see a revised-formula chicken feather nursery pot on the market before the end of the year.
HRI, the research and development group of the American Nursery & Landscape Association, announced April 6 it has formed Green Industry Innovations LLC (GII).
HRI also has been granted the exclusive rights to license formulations and processes, based on the original USDA patent, in the U.S. and Canada.
We are undergoing commercial trials of nursery pots made from a blend of high density polyethylene and keratin bioresins from chicken feathers, said K. Marc Teffeau, HRI research director. We are hoping to get something out in the next six months.
Blends with polypropylene and PE have been developed, that the most likely first commercial formula will be a blend of 30 percent keratin resin and 70 percent HDPE, or 40 percent keratin resin and 60 percent HDPE.
We have to adapt the keratin resins to the specific manufacturing and injection molding processes, Teffeau said in an April 7 phone interview.
We are not in the resin-making business, Teffeau said. We develop the intellectual property and do the licensing.
HRI has been working collaboratively the past five years with the Beltsville, Md., lab of the Agricultural Research Service, which serves as the research arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, to develop keratin resins made from chicken feathers.
The technologies developed by HRI and USDA include both bioresin formulations and the technology to process avian feathers and resins.
GII is in discussions with three nursery pot manufacturers including one that it has worked with the past 30 months that are interested in making nursery, greenhouse and landscape products from keratin bioresins, Teffeau said.
Whoever steps up and makes the commitment will be the first, and we will move forward from these trials to production, he said.
Baltimore-based toll compounder, processor and extruder Adell Plastics Inc. has been HRI's main partner in manufacturing the resins for the commercial trials.
Schmidt first began researching making plastics from chicken feathers in 1998. He previously had found that feather fiberalone or in combination with wood pulp can be made into paper, and he helped develop technology to clean the feathers and separate them into fibers.
Roughly 3 billion pounds of chicken feathers are generated annually in the United States from roughly 9 billion farm-raised broiler chickens. About 80 percent of the feathers go to landfills,