Japanese materials maker Kaneka Corp. has created a biopolymers division to market its plant-based PHBH-brand polyhydroxyalkanoate resin.
The new biopolymers unit will be based in Houston and will be part of Kaneka's Kaneka Americas Holding Inc. business, officials said in an April 23 news release. Kaneka Americas also is based in Houston.
Officials described PHBH as a plant-based product that offers both flexibility and heat resistance. It's produced by a biofermentation process which uses renewable plant oils as feedstock.
The materials are bio-based and biocompostable in aerobic, anaerobic or marine environments, they added. PHBH also is strongly resistant to heat and can act as a barrier to water vapor.
PHBH is stable under everyday usage conditions. Under the right conditions — either anaerobic, aerobic or marine conditions in the natural environment — the products will begin to biodegrade.
PHBH has been granted food contact approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and is suitable for all food packaging products, officials said. It can be formed into products such as cups, cutlery, food trays and plates.
Kaneka, with headquarters in Tokyo and Osaka, first made PHBH in 2011 and is currently expanding production in Takasago, Japan. The firm also is increasing its production of PHBH to more than 11 million pounds annually at a plant in Westerlo, Belgium.
Officials said that Kaneka "hopes to find an alternative solution to the current single use plastic products as the company recognizes the need to bring to market a plant-based product that will help reduce ocean and landfill pollution."
Kaneka employs more than 3,500 worldwide and produces a wide range of plastics and specialty chemicals.