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BioBent Polymersí launches innovative soybean-based bioplastic, adding jobs

Biobent Polymers, a new division of Marysville-based Univenture, has launched a new line of bioplastics that it says replaces up to 40 percent of the petroleum normally used in plastics manufacturing.

The key ingredient: soybean meal.

With funding from the Ohio Soybean Council, Battelle Memorial Institute in Columbus developed new technology and collaborated with Univenture on the revolutionary new family of bioplastics.

"We named our new division 'Biobent' because we are definitely bending biology, taking a standardized way of producing a polymer and bending science to incorporate a biological component," explains Keith Masavage, chief of strategy and operations for both Univenture and Biobent Polymers.

The name of the new bioplastics line is Panacea. It's the industry's first bioplastic resin to maintain the characteristics of the base plastic while replacing up to 40 percent of the petroleum normally used in plastics manufacturing with soy meal, an unrefined agricultural co-product. According to Masavage, bioplastics -- plastics that incorporate renewable agricultural sources, such as vegetable oil, corn starch, algae, or pea starch to make them more environmentally friendly -- have been around for decades. Until now, however, desirable characteristics of the base plastic material, such as strength or flexibility, were compromised when agricultural co-products were added to the mix, and that adversely affected performance.

Masavage says the new material "is the only bioplastic that offers enhanced sustainability, high performance and a competitive price."

Univenture has the exclusive license to manufacture Panaca bioplastics.

Univenture, which has about 110 employees, has started purchasing equipment and hiring new people for its Biobent Polymers division.

"We plan to get up to 25-30 people in the areas of engineering, sales, marketing and general and administrative staff in the next 12-18 months," Masavage says. Biobent will occupy Univenture's available space, so there are currently no plans for a new or expanded facility.

Source: Keith Masavage, Univenture, Inc. and Biobent Polymers
Writer: Lynne Meyer

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