Materials firm Metabolix plans to bring bioplastics production back to the United States.
Woburn, Mass.-based Metabolix recently signed an agreement with South Korean agricultural firm CJ CheilJedang Corp. to build a plant making Mirel-brand PHA bioresins at a CJ site in Fort Dodge, Iowa.
No dates for the planned project — which would have annual production capacity of about 22 million pounds — were included in a March 29 news release.
Under the agreement, Metabolix would buy specialty PHAs made at Fort Dodge from CJ, and then market and sell those materials to commercial customers.
“CJ brings impressive engineering capabilities and operating expertise that will be critical to the success of this project,” Metabolix President and CEO Joseph Shaulson said in the release.
CJ already operates a fermentation unit in Fort Dodge.
Metabolix has not made its materials in the United States since early 2012, when Archer Daniels Midland ended a production deal between the two firms at a plant in Clinton, Iowa.
Later in 2012, Metabolix struck a deal with Spanish pharmaceuticals firm Antibioticos SA to make PHA at a plant in Leon, Spain. In April 2015, Shaulson told Plastics News that Metabolix was pursuing “more of a classical specialty chemicals and specialty materials business strategy.”
Although its plant-based resins have won several industry awards, Metabolix has struggled financially. The firm posted a loss of almost $23.7 million in 2015 as sales fell 7 percent to just under $2.6 million. Metabolix lost $29.5 million in 2014.
On Wall Street, Metabolix's per-share stock price was above $4 as recently as mid-2015 but had fallen under $1 by January. It has recovered since then and was near $2 in early trading March 30.