CAMBRIDGE, MA � The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved two forms of Mirel bioplastic, a material made from corn sugar, for use in products that come into contact with food.
FDA approval means the bioplastic can be used in food packaging, caps, utensils, tubs, trays and hot cup lips as well as houseware, cosmetic and medical products and packaging.
Mirel bioplastic is made from fermented sugar and it can biodegrade in soil and water, home composting and industrial composting settings.
Environmental responsibility is a part of everyday business and consumer life. The increasing focus on healthier living, natural products, and protecting our environment is generating demand for functional products and packaging that do not burden our natural world. As a result of this positive trend, industry leaders, creative brand owners, and retailers are looking to bioplastics to help support their brand�s environmental profile and corporate sustainability goals.
High-performance bioplastics have arrived. Mirel� bioplastics are biobased and biodegradable (PHAs are the only non-starch bioplastics that are both). Mirel bioplastics are biodegradable in natural soil and water environments, home composting systems, and industrial composting facilities (in areas where these facilities are available). However, like nearly all other bioplastics and organic matter, Mirel is not designed to biodegrade in landfills. The rate and extent of Mirel�s biodegradability will depend on the size and shape of the articles made from it. Mirel bioplastics combine the expected durability and versatility of traditional petroleum-based plastics with biodegradable properties, providing brand owners with a unique material for use in their products.
Conventional plastics materials like PVC, PET, and PP are made from petroleum (fossil carbon). The PHA in Mirel bioplastics is made through the fermentation of sugar and can be biodegraded by the microbes present in natural soil or water environments. Our story is simple. Mirel provides a biobased and biodegradable alternative solution when disposed of in the appropriate environment.Sustainable Packaging System: A target vision for companies to strive for packaging that can be transformed into a cradle to cradle flow of packaging materials in a system that is economically robust and provides benefit throughout its life cycle. Sustainable packaging:
- Is beneficial, safe, and healthy for individuals and communities throughout its life cycle;
- Meets market criteria for performance and cost;
- Is sourced, manufactured, transported and recycled using renewable energy;
- Maximizes use of renewable or recycled source materials;
- Is manufactured using clean production technologies and best practices;
- Is made from materials healthy in all probable end-of-life scenarios;
- Is physically designed to optimize materials and energy; and
- Is effectively recovered and utilized in biological or industrial cradle-to-cradle cycles.
As opposed to the polylactic acid (PLA) that some bioplastics are made of, Mirel is made from polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA), which are polyesters that are produced naturally when sugar is fermented by bacteria.
The FDA approval covers Mirel F1005 and F1006, two food contact injection molding grades of the bioplatic. It also means that those grades of Mirel can be used to store frozen food and can be used in microwaves and boiling water up to 212°F.
Mirel is sold commercially by Telles, a joint venture between Metabolix and Archer Daniels Midland. In December, the first commercial plant for Mirel went online in Clinton, Iowa, next to an Archer Daniels Midland wet corn mill.
Sugar is sent over from the corn mill to the Mirel plant, which can produce 110 million pounds of Mirel bioplastic a year and sits on a site large enough for it to expand by four times.
Read more: http://www.greenbiz.com/news/2010/05/17/fda-approves-mirel-bioplastic-food-packaging-utensils#ixzz0owxMAkwA Biodegradable, Not Just Biobased
�Biodegradability is an end-of-life option for single-use consumer plastics that harness microbes present in the disposal environment to completely utilize the carbon substrate safely and efficaciously, and remove it from the environment. Biodegradability claims must be supported by verifiable scientific data from independent, third-party testing laboratories using established international (ISO) or national (ASTM, EN) standard test methods and specifications.�
Not all biobased plastics are biodegradable. The majority of bioplastics and biodegradable plastics are biobased but have limited or no biodegradability. Mirel bioplastic resins are the only non-starch bioplastics certified by Vinçotte for biodegradability in soil, home compost, industrial compost, and natural water environments. Mirel bioplastic resins may help to reduce waste sent to landfills and may increase composting at home or at industrial composting facilities.
The rate and extent of Mirel�s biodegradability will depend on the size and shape of the articles made from it. Mirel is not designed to effectively degrade in landfills. Industrial composting facilities may not be available in your geographic area.
Dr. Ramani Narayan, Distinguished Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, Michigan State University