Bioplastic, Earnings, Investments, Presentation

Metabolix expands collaboration with Samsung Fine Chemicals

It has been a great day seeing the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) Trading Floor for the first time as the blog covered BioAmber’s ringing of the NYSE’s opening bell yesterday morning. More on my interview with CEO Jean-Francois Huc in another post.

In the meantime, let’s cover Metabolix’s announcement yesterday of its expanded partnership with Samsung Fine Chemicals during the company’s second quarter earnings conference call. Metabolix said it has formalized a collaboration with Samsung Fine Chemicals (SFC) focusing on marketing biodegradable polymer products worldwide.

Metabolix noted that it will bring to the collaboration its wide range of PHA (polyhydroxyalkanoate) products while SFC will bring other biodegradable biopolymers such as PBAT (polybutylene adipate co-terephthalate) and PBS (polybutylene succinate). Metabolix has been working with SFC since early 2012. Metabolix said it has been developing biopolymer products by combining performance PHAs with PBAT, PBS as well as PLA and starches for high-value applications.

“We have a very complementary set of products and very complementary regional positioning. We will work collaboratively with Samsung to determine the right approach to move those products down those various supply chains based on the specific applications. There may be cases also where Samsung will be marketing Metabolix products and Metabolix will be marketing Samsung products.” – Rick Eno, Metabolix CEO.

Eno said the blended biopolymer formulation is done on a toll basis and is not capital intensive for the company.

Speaking of production, here are some of the company updates that came from their earnings call:

PHA Capacity
Metabolix announced that it is looking at a 10,000 tons/year PHA manufacturing in the US (which will cost somewhere between $10m and $20m), and is currently conducting due diligence on two potential US manufacturing sites for its PHA. The near-term plan is to use PHA biopolymers from this 10 ktpy plant in both neat PHA biopolymer applications as well as proprietary polymer formulations. Their collaboration with Samsung are part of this plan.

Early this year, the company has partnered with Chinese PHA producer Tianjin GreenBio Materials for PHA supply.GreenBio currently has the capacity to produce 10,000 tons/year of PHA in Binhai District. Metabolix noted that it continues to develop supplier relationship with Tianjin GreenBio Materials.

Last year, Metabolix announced a PHA manufacturing deal with Spain-based Antibioticos with the expectation of initially producing 10,000 tons/year of PHA resins at Antibioticos’ Leon facility. Unfortunately, Antibioticos has been undergoing financial restructuring and there is no definite date yet when Antibioticos will start producing Metabolix’s PHA. Metabolix said the situation at Antibioticos is becoming clearer and that the company is actively engaged in evaluating its options for PHA manufacturing at the Leon site.

Product updates
The company said the film market continues to be a growing part of Metabolix business since it launched late last year its Mvera B5008 compostable film product. Eno said they continue to make incremental improvements in the product’s formulation and the company expects to continue to negotiate long-term contracts for compostable film products.

In late 2012, the company also launched a PHA-based impact modifier for flexible PVC. Metabolix said it is now working with a number of potential customers who have sampled the product and are testing it in a number of high-valued applications.

Metabolix said it has also developed a biodegradable latex product based on some very unique PHA properties in collaboration with developmental partners. Performance latex coating is the initial target and Eno said the company has a developed a range of PHA latex formulations which are actively being sampled to customers to optimize their product profiles.

With regards to their biobased C3 and C4 chemicals program focusing on PHA-based butanediol (BDO), gamma butyrolactone (GBL) and acrylic acid, Eno said there has been increasing interest in their bio-acrylic technology (C3) as industry players are starting to look aggressively at bio-acrylic potential as a desirable differentiator for their customers in markets such as paints and diapers.

The company’s C3 and C4 products have already been out in the market for testing and Metabolix’s aim is to increase yield of the streams and scale-up of the process to a more viable and profitable numbers.

About Doris de Guzman

Will Green Chemistry save the world or is it hype? Doris de Guzman examines alternative processing, new technology, R&D and other sustainability initiatives aimed at preventing pollution; replacing ingredients; and using renewable feedstocks in Green Chemistry. She has been covering the oleochemicals market for 15 years and spread her beat to inorganics, biofuels and green chemistry.


2 Responses to “Metabolix expands collaboration with Samsung Fine Chemicals”

  1. Surprised that they’re still talking about building a commercial scale plant at this point. Have they made any progress on reducing PHA prices?

    Posted by Kent | August 14, 2013, 5:10 pm
    • The company seems to be focusing more on high-value, high-margin applications where PHA price is not much of a bigger issue. At this point, I don’t know where the company is in terms of reducing PHA price economics.

      Posted by Doris de Guzman | August 23, 2013, 8:56 pm

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