Metabolix CEO talks European expansion


Bioplastics developer Metabolix has opened its first European office.

Rick Eno, president and CEO of Metabolix, told PlasticsToday the Cambridge, MA-based company opened the new office to directly access the European market for biopolymers, and to serve as a coordination point for its regional initiatives in renewable chemicals.

"There's a growing demand for bioplastics and we want to be immersed in one of our largest markets," he said. "Having a central location in Europe will help Metabolix better engage with customers and partners located there."

Located in Cologne, Germany at the BioCampus Cologne life science park, the new office marks the first expansion for Metabolix outside of the U.S. It will coordinate business development, customer service and technical support to business partners and biopolymer customers based in Europe, the company said.

Metabolix's new office opened its doors on April 16. The BioCampus Cologne park, which was established in 2002, is currently one of the largest biotechnology parks in Germany. The park is home to approximately 20 life science companies, including Bayer HealthCare , Sanofi-Aventis, and Direvo.

Eno said Cologne was chosen for a number of reasons.

"One, the city itself is teeming with life science innovators, so in that sense, it's a perfect fit for Metabolix and what we're doing," he said. "Spatially, Cologne provides easy access to key cities in Europe, so close proximity to our customers and partners was a top priority when scouting out the location for our new office."

The global demand for bioplastics is expected to more than triple through 2015, with Western Europe remaining the largest consumer of bioplastic materials, according to The Freedonia Group , a market research firm.

"Being immersed in, and engaged with, one of the fastest growing bioplastics markets in the world is a natural next step for Metabolix, one that we believe will be conducive to the growth of our business and the nurturing of our relationships overseas," Eno said.

Metabolix is a developer of PHA (polyhydroxyalkanoates) biopolymers. The company's technology platform has led to the development of a line of biopolymer resins marketed under the Mirel and Mvera brands, as well as the development of biobased industrial chemicals as "drop in" replacements for petroleum-based products.

Metabolix biopolymers display biodegradability properties because they are made using a patented fermentation process and plant-derived sugar, according to the company.

Mirel is certified to biodegrade in soil and water environments, as well as home composting and industrial composting facilities (in areas where such facilities are available). Mvera is a certified compostable film grade resin intended for industrial composting. However, Mirel and Mvera will not biodegrade in conventional landfills, the company said.

Metabolix's customers have demonstrated use of PHA biopolymers in agriculture/horticulture, compost and organic waste diversion, marine/aquatic, sustainable packaging, and consumer goods applications.

In addition to producing PHA biopolymers, Metabolix is developing C4 and C3 chemicals from biobased sources with the intention of moving these processes toward commercial scale targets. C4 chemicals are used in applications ranging from high-performance engineering plastics to spandex. C3 chemicals have applications in paints, coatings, diapers and

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