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P&G unwraps bioplastic for commercialization

Cincinnati,OH-based Procter & Gamble has licensed PHBH (poly 3-hydroxybutyrate-co-3-hydroxyhexanoate), a biodegradable polymer, to plastics manufacturer Kaneka Corp., Osaka, Japan.
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Announced in October the move sets in motion future commercialization of the bioplastic which can be used in packaging applications. Degradable under aerobic and anaerobic conditions PHBH is part of P&G’s Nodax™ family of resins. It offers degradability equal to or better than that of cellulose states P&G’s Norma McDonald associate director external business development and global licensing. She explains that the polymer offers the oxygen barrier of ethylene vinyl alcohol (EVOH) the printability of polyester the heat sealability of polyethylene and grease resistance. The material is manufactured from renewable resources such as molasses or fatty acids. Unlike typical bioplastics PHBH is stable in temperatures to 120°C. Although pricing will be determined by Kaneka McDonald believes it will be competitive with engineering resins such as high-grade polyester or EVOH. The polymer can be used in flexible (this will come first McDonald surmises) or rigid packaging applications in multilayer or monolayer structures. McDonald foresees no obstacles to FDA acceptance for direct food-contact applications. The licensing agreement means Kaneka will develop the commercial manufacturing process for PHBH which is expected to yield a significant quantity of the resin within three years. For further information contact P&G’s Norma McDonald at 513/983-6678 or visit Kaneka’s Web site at www.kaneka.co.jp. (RL)

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