ORLANDO FLA. — Showcasing polyhydroxyalkanoate biopolymers at NPE 2015, bioplastics maker Metabolix Inc. President and CEO Joseph Shaulson, made it clear that the company was following a more classic business strategy.
“One thing that is different about us from where we were historically is that we are now pursuing what I would call more of a classical specialty chemicals and specialty materials business strategy,” he said. “So really what we are focused on is the performance of our product in specific applications as opposed to being a commodity replacement for non-biodegradable or non-bio-based material.
“We happen to be biodegradable, and we happen to be bio-based and those are attributes that customers may desire, but we are also looking for real performance advantages.”
Shaulson said the Cambridge, Mass.-based company decided to focus on a couple of key performance additives applications, including adding PHA to polylactic acid compounds to address the fundamental weaknesses of PLA including its brittleness.
Shaulson also noted the company's recent alliance with Honeywell International.
“We are working with them to develop PHA-based ingredients for cosmetics and personal care products, and what we are focused on initially is replacing polyethylene microbeads with biodegradable Mirel PHA microbeads.”
Shaulson highlighted how regulatory drivers are behind the demand for biodegradable microbeads, with a fair amount of non-governmental organization activity against polyethylene microbeads.
Metabolix also showed the following developments at NPE in Orlando:
• Developmental grades for film and packaging applications. Metabolix is featuring developmental film grades based on a-PHA modified PLA. Metabolix is displaying films that provide high biocontent (more than 95 percent), high load carrying capability and industrial compostability.
• PVC processing aids and polymeric modifiers: Metabolix is developing biobased PHA processing aids and performance modifiers for rigid, semi-rigid, and flexible PVC as well as PVC recyclate compounds. As a process aid, Metabolix PHA additives allow torque reduction in highly filled systems, resulting in the ability to increase filler content and improve equipment performance. As performance modifiers, Metabolix PHA additives in PVC systems improve permanence in durable applications.