21 Erie Street
Cambridge, MA 02139
Metabolix is a public company, well through its transition from development stage to commercialization stage. Their vision is a sustainable future through biotechnology for bioplastics, fuels, and energy.
“We are creating a compelling, sustainable alternative to petrochemical materials, and have established a technology platform that will enable the widespread adoption of Mirel Bioplastics in the marketplace.”
They are meeting this new future using a business model that:
1. Focuses now on commercializing a broad and versatile range of Mirel bioplastics through the conversion of agricultural products such as sugars and oils using microbial biofactories; and
2. Is developing the ability to produce bioplastics directly in non-food crop plants, with economics that will enable bioplastics to serve as viable, sustainable alternatives to very large volume, general purpose plastics such as polystyrene, polyethylene, PET, and polypropylene, and to a variety of currently important industrial chemicals.
Metabolix Plant Team headed by
Dr. Kristi Snell
Commercializing Metabolix bioplastics products now via fermentation
The manufacture of Metabolix bioplastics using microorganisms to convert agricultural products such as sugars and vegetable oils, provides a very broad range of compositions with an equally broad range of properties. In November 2004, we announced formation of a strategic partnership with Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), one of the world’s largest agricultural products processors and industrial fermentors, to produce these bioplastics through fermentation.
Metabolix is taking several different approaches to commercializing its bioplastics, depending on the structure of the specific market. In cases where these materials are used directly and the market is highly concentrated, Metabolix intends to market its bioplastics directly and is building the organizational capability to do so. Where they are used in formulated products, where there is substantial art in their conversion to final form, where the market is highly fragmented, or where intimate familiarity with the technical needs of the marketplace and significant technical support are required, Metabolix will serve the market through specialist distributors or through partnerships with market leaders and specialist formulators/converters. In general, these partners are eager to offer products that provide differentiation from their competitors.
Bioplastics Made Directly in Plants
Global plastics consumption is enormous, with over 350 billion pounds consumed in 2003, and forecast to grow at over 5% annually to reach over 500 billion pounds in 2010. This means that global plastics consumption is growing by over 15 billion pounds per year today! Metabolix bioplastics made directly in plants offer the promise of a naturally produced, cost competitive, sustainable alternative to much of this material. Metabolix is targeting the production of these bioplastics in crops that can also provide energy based on the residual biomass. In this way, bioplastics gain benefit from the economies of scale associated with energy production, and biomass based energy is made economic by the high value bioplastics produced. This concept is the basis of the “Biomass Biorefinery” program, a $15 million program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, now in its fourth year, and Metabolix has also received support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Recently, Metabolix and British Petroleum announced a collaborative agreement to further progress this technology.