New Biobased Biodegradable Plastic Hits Market

A new plant in Iowa will produce 110 million pounds annually.

Mirel Natural Plastics, a family of high performance natural plastics that are biobased, sustainable and completely biodegradable will be produced by ADM and Metabolix Inc. the companies announced earlier this month.

The companies formed a joint venture, Telles (named for the Roman goddess of the Earth), to produce the natural plastic which will manufactured at a plant in Clinton, Iowa. This plant is expected to start up in 2008 and will produce Mirel at an annual rate of 110 million pounds.

"We are now commercializing biobased, renewable alternatives to petroleum-based plastics that will reduce our reliance on oil and the impact petroleum use has on climate change," said Jim Barber, CEO of Cambridge, Mass.-based Metabolix.

Mirel is produced from renewable resources like corn sugar which can biodegrade harmlessly back to nature in a wide range of environments such as soil, compost, rivers and oceans. It can provide an alternative to traditional, oil-based plastics. More than 350 billion pounds of plastic is produced each year and nearly 10% of total U.S. oil consumption -- about two million barrels a day -- is used to make plastic each year.

Mirel can be used as an alternative in a wide variety of conversion processes, including injection molding, paper coating, cast film and sheet, blown film and thermoforming. Metabolix is currently working on more than 60 applications, including consumer products, packaging, single use disposables, and products used in agriculture and erosion control.


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