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Partners sought for meat-based bioplastic

By Kate Tilley, Plastics News
Posted 25 February 2013

A New Zealand biopolymer company that is turning meat byproducts into bioplastic, is in discussions with commercial partners in Australia and New Zealand.

Aduro Biopolymers, based in Hamilton, hopes to see its meat-based bioplastic, called Novatein, in commercial use by 2016 or 2017.

WaikatoLink, a wholly owned subsidiary of New Zealand's University of Waikato, established Aduro Biopolymers. WaikatoLink develops environmentally conscious materials for manufacturing and construction sectors. It commercializes technologies developed by the university.

Blood meal, which is produced by steam drying animal blood collected from abattoirs, is used to create the renewable thermoplastic. Blood meal is processed into granules, which are then converted into injection molded or extruded products. The granules are customised and formulated to suit the different properties of specific polymer products.

Aduro Biopolymers acting CEO Darren Harpur said the company wants to establish manufacturing facilities in Australia to produce the granules to sell to plastics manufacturers. It will establish its own product manufacturing facility if an existing manufacturer is not found.

Harpur said Novatein's properties are most equivalent to, but not the same as or a direct replacement for, polyethylene.

"Novatein is not being targeted as a direct replacement for any particular plastic," Harpur said. "Our intention is to offer a product that is fit for purpose."

He said Novatein is not a food-contact product, but is best-suited for agricultural and horticultural applications, like pots, containers and pegs. Novatein is not suitable for applications that require high and sustained strength and long-term durability, Harpur said.

He said Novatein will be price-competitive with petrochemical plastics.

"The manufacturing process is quite simple. This means the capital costs required to commence manufacture will be relatively low," he said.

All trials and research to date suggest Novatein can be processed using standard processing equipment, according to Harpur, so it is unlikely a producer will be required to make any modifications.

Sydney-based Meat & Livestock Australia Ltd. will co-fund development of Novatein in the Australian market. Harpur said other partners are confidential.

"The red-meat industry in Australia [has] shown a great deal of interest in Novatein," he said. "Discussions with one Australian partner, in particular, are progressing well, with strong interest shown to develop a new product." He would not name any potential partners.

A Waikato, New Zealand-based rendering business, Wallace, which processes co-products from the meat-processing industry, has agreed to invest in Aduro Biopolymers and could be a blood-meal supplier, but no agreement has been negotiated yet.

Aduro Biopolymers also is in discussions with commercial partners about other bioplastic products, including plant-based bioplastics and processing feathers for various applications in the plastics and building and construction industries.


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