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Telles transitions to commercial phase for PHA bioplastic in 2011

Telles says its Mirel bioplastic business will enter the commercial phase in the middle of 2011, with the company's Clinton, IA commercial manufacturing facility to reach its designed annual production capacity of 110 million lb by the middle of 2013.

Telles says its Mirel bioplastic business will enter the commercial phase in the middle of 2011, with the company's Clinton, IA commercial manufacturing facility to reach its designed annual production capacity of 110 million lb by the middle of 2013. Telles, which is a joint venture between Metabolix and Archer Daniels Midland, announced that news and its financial performance in its fourth quarter and full-year 2010 earnings statement.

Including its most recent deal with AL-PACK Enterprises for of soil-biodegradable home and garden mulch films, Telles has entered into four other "significant" contractual supply agreements for its polyhydroxyalknoate (PHA) bioplastic, as it transitions from product development to commercialization.

Metabolix is still continuing its crop science research work centered on tobacco, however, most recently generating PHA yield levels of about 9% of total plant weight and 17% of leaf tissue weight. Those levels are more than 10 times the yields previously documented in peer-reviewed research publications. The company has also entered into its second field trial for camelina-based PHA production, where it anticipates continued advances in yields that, longer-term, are expected to lead to new, more efficient production and recovery processes for a wide range of biobased plastics and chemicals.

Beyond bioplastics, Metabolix expects to make its first sample shipments of biobased industrial chemicals to customers during the first quarter of fiscal 2011, as part of a new business venture. Telles is initially focused on specialty C4 chemicals and expects to expand into C3 chemicals as well. The company believes this new technology will expand its addressable market, and, through a future partnership, could ultimately provide a second revenue stream.

Metabolix reported a net loss of $9.5 million for the fourth quarter of 2010 compared to a net loss of $9.8 million for the year-ago quarter. For all of 2010, Metabolix registered a net loss of $38.8 million, up slightly over a net loss of $38.0 million for 2009. Net cash for operating activities was up for the final quarter of 2010 to $8.1 million from $5.9 million, with the company remaining debt free.

Revenue for the full years of 2010 and 2009 was $0.4 million and $1.4 million, respectively, with the year-over-year decrease primarily due to a decline in government research grant money. That stream dried up with the completion of the Integrated Bio-Engineered Chemicals grant, which expired in the fourth quarter of 2009. 

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