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ADM and Metabolix to Build First Commercial Plant for PHA Natural Plastics

  • Friday, 24th February 2006
  • Reading time: about 2 minutes

Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM) will build the first commercial plant to produce a new generation of high-performance natural plastics that are eco-friendly and based on sustainable, renewable resources.

The plant will have an initial annual capacity of 50,000 tons per year, be located at a major ADM North American site and serve the joint venture being established by ADM and Metabolix. The plant will produce PHA natural plastics that have a wide variety of applications in products currently made from petrochemical plastics, including coated paper, film, and moulded goods. The PHA natural plastics are produced using a fully biological fermentation process that converts agricultural raw materials, such as corn sugar, into a versatile range of plastics that have excellent durability in use, but are compostable in both hot and cold compost, and are biodegraded even in the marine environment.

“”The plastics created from PHA polymers are natural, biodegradable and renewable, and we are pleased to begin their commercial production,”” stated G.Allen Andreas, ADM Chairman, Chief Executive and President. “”As the world’s demand for petroleum continues to increase, ADM believes that this facility is a positive step towards producing renewable plastics that offer the global marketplace an alternative to traditional petroleum-derived plastics.””

“”A broadly useful family of bio-based, biodegradable natural plastics will be commercially available for the first time,”” stated Jim Barber, President and CEO of Metabolix. “”Consumers and users concerned by the negative impacts of persistent petrochemical plastics on the environment and their dependence on volatile, non-renewable resources from unstable regions will now have a practical alternative.””

In 2004, ADM and Metabolix announced a strategic alliance to commercialize the Metabolix proprietary PHA technology, which is protected by over 130 issued and pending U.S. patents.

PHA natural plastics are said to be a broad and versatile family of polymers that range in properties from rigid to elastic, and can be converted into moulded and thermoformed goods, extruded coatings and film, blown film, fibres, adhesives and many other products. They are claimed to have excellent shelf life and resistance even to hot liquids, greases and oils, yet they biodegrade in aquatic, marine and soil environments and under anaerobic conditions, such as found in septic systems and municipal waste treatment plants. They can be both hot and cold composted.

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