Microbeads are in the news. They are components in everyday personal care and cleaning products such as shampoos, cosmetics and cleansers. Microbead sizes range from less than 10 microns to hundreds of microns and have a range of shapes – spherical and irregular. These fine powders are typically made from synthetic polymers such as polyethylene, polypropylene or polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE)—each selected specifically for the size, shape and consistency they provide to the recipe—and serve to improve the touch and feel of personal care products or aid in their manufacturing. So why is this ingredient in particular garnering such attention in the news and from numerous advocacy groups? Continue reading
Metabolix was recently granted or allowed six patents covering technology related to each of our key areas of biopolymers, biobased industrial chemicals and crop-based technologies. Among those granted was patent US 8,487,159, issued on July 16 titled “Production of Polyhydroxybutryrate in Switchgrass.” The patent describes a genetic construct consisting of 3 genes for making PHB, a biopolymer naturally produced in some bacteria as a carbon and energy storage molecule. The patent also describes the invention of switchgrass plants which produce at least 1% dry weight PHB. Continue reading
More and more cities are taking steps to try to address litter problems associated with polyethylene plastic shopping bags. These cities’ efforts typically began with local retailers installing infrastructure for collecting and recycling the bags as shoppers return to these retail centers. Recycling continues to be the most frequently used “solution”–albeit with mixed results. Reported statistics on the rate of bag recycling range from only 3 to 10% depending on the state and the source. Continue reading
Aquaculture is currently a $100 billion dollar industry, and growing every year, according to the NOAA. Aquaculture provides an excellent food source that can improve dietary nutrition, adding a good source of protein to low-income, food-deficit countries (LIFDCs). By the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates, over 20% of animal protein in LIFDCs comes from fish. Creating a healthier and more stable stock of fish is important to continue the necessary growth of aquaculture across the globe.
The Atlantic salmon is the most cultivated species of salmon. Our biopolymers could help continue the growth of this industry.
Improving the feed used in aquaculture is the most important step to generating these benefits, and is a key focus for the industry. Metabolix has started researching the use of polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB), an ingredient for improving fish feeds, initially for the Atlantic salmon.
PHB, one of the simplest members of the PHA (polyhydroxyalkanoate) family of naturally occurring biopolymers, is a potential ingredient for the production of enhanced feeds. Continue reading
I recently read an article in Plastics and Rubber Weekly stating that in 2011, “More than one billion pounds of post-consumer plastic bags and film were collected for recycling in the US.” According to the report, plastic bag and film recycling is up four percent from 2010, and film recycling up 55 percent from 2005. Continue reading
New materials have long been sought that help to tackle increasing concerns about the future sustainability of petroleum feedstocks and the increasing generation of waste (and litter) driven by our growing population. Reducing generation by using less, for example in packaging, and recycling and reusing materials that often end up as waste, are both great places to look to creatively apply these new materials. Continue reading
illions of fishing pots (i.e., traps) are spread across our ocean floors globally to catch all manner of sea life, from crabs to lobsters to certain types of fish. Whether due to boat traffic cutting lines, lines breaking, or simply losing a pot overboard, there are abundant opportunities for these fishing pots to be lost at sea.
The numbers bear this out, as anywhere from 10-70% of deployed pots are lost or abandoned each year.
You might be wondering, “What happens to these ‘lost’ fishing pots?” or “Why is this an issue since they’re so far below the water’s surface?” Continue reading