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Bioplastics processor Ecospan plans new ops center in PA

Bioplastics developer and marketer of bioplastics products Ecospan LLC is adding an East Coast home to its current headquarters in California. The new operations center in Exton, Pennsylvania, slated to open in the fall of 2011, also will be the home office for the company's expanded management team. Recent hires include Paul Cannon, marketing VP, and ex-Conair executive John Vandenbergh as VP operations.

In response to questions form PlasticsToday, Paul Cannon, who joined the company n Feb. 2011, said the offices at the new operations center will house the company's central research and development laboratories, including a customer design center, with full product testing capabilities. Additionally, the company will use the new location to produce its BioFlow family of resins to augment its facility in Arizona. The company's headquarters is in Greenbrae, California "Many strategic decisions drove the expansion," added Greg Hoffman, chairman and CEO, in a company statement. "Our new executive team and operations center go hand-in-hand."

Scott Sanderson, Ecospan's VP product development, who has been with the company since its inception in 2005, will be relocating from Ecospan's facility in Asia to the new Pennsylvania location. Jeff White, the company's president, also will work from there.

The new East Coast location offers he company a number of advantages, said Hoffmann. "The Philadelphia area will provide Ecospan with close proximity to the region's talent pool in the life sciences, chemicals, and plastics industries, including companies such as DuPont, Dow, and BASF. This region is home to many of the country's higher educational institutions focused on biopolymer and material science research. Among these are The University of Pennsylvania, Drexel University, Penn State University, and University of Delaware. The setting gives Ecospan a strong East Coast presence and allows us to better serve the European market."

Cannon said he was not at liberty to name any of the company's current customers. On the Ecospan website there is a photo of an injection molding facility; the photo, he says, is from one of several certified third-party injection molders who produce finished products on the company's behalf.

The company does say that small changes must be made to standard processing machinery to run its BioFlow material. When asked on these changes, Cannon responded "the unique process techniques in conjunction with our proprietary formulations serve as a competitive advantage and are thus considered proprietary."

According to the company's website, BioFlow can be physically recycled, industrially composted, incinerated, chemically converted back to lactic acid through hydrolysis (feedstock recovery) or landfilled. The material is compostable in industrial composting facilities. In the United States, the Federal Trade Commission has determined that BioFlow is compostable but does not give it biodegradable status based on the FTC's Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims.

BioFlow pellets are a pale yellow color but adding small quantities of a blue tint to mask the natural yellow shade makes them transparent. The material can be injection molded, thermoformed, extruded and injection stretch blowmolded.  

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