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Emergence of biobased polymeric additives for PVC researched by Metabolix

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Emergence of biobased polymeric additives for PVC researched by Metabolix

June 12, 2013 - 10:11

CAMBRIDGE, MA, June 12, 2013 (PRNewswire) -New materials have long been sought that help to tackle increasing concerns about the future sustainability of petroleum feedstocks and the increasing generation of waste (and litter) driven by our growing population. Reducing generation by using less-for example in packaging-and recycling, and reusing materials that often end up as waste, are both great places to look to creatively apply these new materials.

PVC (polyvinyl chloride) is one of the best known, versatile plastics in the world and one of the least recycled. PVC has qualities that make it usable in everything from piping and construction to signs and packaging. However, PVC always requires additives before it can be made into a finished product and most of these additives, along with PVC itself, are not made with renewable resources. Furthermore, while these additives provide important enhancements to the basic PVC polymer-from making PVC more flexible to increasing its UV stability for outdoor use-they can hinder recycling and reuse. Many additives, like phthalates, unfortunately also migrate to the surface, out of the PVC, reducing the desired performance over time.

At Metabolix, we are researching the benefits of using our biopolymers as PVC modifiers to solve some of these problems, while improving performance and lowering overall formulation costs. Recent work led by Dr. Yelena Kann and presented at ANTEC 2013 entitled "Versatile Vinyl Plastic: Formulating for the future," highlighted how PHA modifiers offer PVC formulators with effective biobased impact modification. Data presented demonstrates that incorporation of these modifiers also does not compromise transparency nor UV stability of PVC.

In December 2012, we introduced I6001, the industry's first biobased polymeric impact modifier for PVC to improve toughness and simultaneously impart some plasticization. The additional plasticization allows for elimination of some secondary plasticizers and for a reduction in the use of primary phthalates and other additives. Unlike phthalates and some biobased plasticizers, our PHA modifiers bring plasticization without unwanted migration to the surface over time and resultant loss of toughness.

PHA polymeric modifiers are competitive on price and performance with the leading petroleum-based core-shell impact modifiers, and offer the potential to reformulate the total additive package to achieve overall cost savings. These new biobased PHA modifiers allow PVC compounders and converters to create innovative new solutions and product offerings in a mature industry. In fact, Karen Laird of Plastics Today identified additives and modifiers as an area of bioplastics that will "strongly develop" in a recent article, "Bioplastics in 2013: 5 Trends to Watch."

At Metabolix, we've been exploring the versatility and range of our patented PHA backbone technology as we develop these impact modifiers for PVC. The development of biobased additives and modifiers represents a new part of the green tech story where materials valued for competitive performance also offer sustainability benefits. Metabolix is pleased to be taking part in this evolution and we look forward to bringing new biobased performance additives to market in 2013 and beyond.