In November 2016, MIT said that the bioplastic spun by enzyme has the potential to replace petro-plastic. The bacterial enzymes that produce polymer chains have similar properties of plastic. The researchers at MIT found out that when nutrients enter and polymers exit while making bioengineering of bioplastics, replacing petro-plastics with bioplastics is a feasible alternative. The enzymes produce chains of polymers. The scientists at MIT have discovered and identified the structure of a polymer-producing enzyme. This discovery has opened the doors of new opportunities and avenues for replacing harmful petrochemical plastics with biologically produced plastics that are also known as bioplastics. A few organizations have already started synthesizing bioplastic polymers for medical packaging. The enzyme polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) is easily found in almost all bacteria and produces plastic polymers that are stored by the enzymes as food.
Yield 10 Bioscience/Metabolix is leading the way in PHA biopolymer technology and utilizes the same for a wide range of consumer packaging applications. According to Kristi Sneall, chief scientific officer and vice president of research, the new discovery will not lower the cost of producing PHA polymer as the progress made is not cost-effective enough to be competitive economically with affordable traditional plastics that is derived from oil. Kristi also elaborates that the breakthrough have created new opportunities for the development of new polymer materials and applications.In November 2016, Oil and gas company, Total SA and specialist in lactic acid, Corbion NV will form a partnership to develop bioplastics in a 50/50 joint venture for the production of polylactic acid (PLA) polymers. Both the companies have come together as a team to build a PLA polymerization plant that will have a capacity of 75,000 metric tons per year at Corbionss site in Thailand that is already equipped with lactide production unit. Proprietary polymerization technology from Sulzer Chemtech Ltd will be utilized by Corbion at the plant. Further, the company is planning to expand its capacity of its lactide plant in Thailand by 25,000 tons annually. President of Total Refining & Chemicals, Bernard Pinatel said that with this venture the company aims to be amongst the major player in the expanding bioplastics market. He further highlighted that Corbions position in the value chain of lactic acid and biopolymers was one of the main reasons for the partnership and it will allow the company to supply innovative material that is 100 percent renewable and eco-friendly. A report was recently published by Progressive Markets that offers key insights related to the global bioplastics market.