Labcon North America, a
manufacturer of disposable laboratory supplies, will use Mirel biodegradable
polymer for the production of its new Pagoda pipette reloading system.
Mirel will be used for the injection-molded tray that holds
the pipettes in place. It is one of the first precision injection molding applications
for the new biopolymers, which have mostly stirred interest among packaging
OEMs to date. The tray requires heat and chemical resistance, dimensional stability
and durability. Labcon, which says it may
use the product across a number of its applications,
offers more than 800 products globally
and produces over 1 billion units per year.
"There has been growing
concern within our industry that the disposal of traditional plastics is too
wasteful. We can now offer customers the opportunity to lower their carbon
footprint with our Pagoda line of products and many have indicated that they
will switch to our new products made from renewable resources. Labcon
previously supplied conventional plastic trays that were thrown away or
reclaimed through Labcon's recycle program. Now we are planning to launch a
composting program to complement this initiative," says Jim Happ, president of Labcon, which is based in Petaluma, CA.
Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM) are commercializing Mirel through a joint
venture called Telles. The first commercial-scale Mirel production plant is
being constructed adjacent to ADM's wet corn mill in Clinton, IA.
The plant is designed to produce up to 110 mil lbs of Mirel annually. Mirel
is made from plants and Metabolix
the viability of producing bioplastic in switchgrass.
Mirel will be sold at a significant premium over oil-based
plastics. Mirel will cost
$2/lb to $2.50/lb while injection-moldable high-density polyethylene, for
example, sells at around 80 cents/lb. Another competitor, polypropylene,
also sells around 80 cents/lb.
According to Metabolix, Mirel reduces the use of fossil energy by more than 95
percent and provides a 200-percent reduction in greenhouse gases compared to
the production of conventional petroleum-based plastics.