Metabolix, Woburn, Mass., officially exited the bioplastics business with the sale of its intellectual property and certain laboratory equipment to Korea’s CJ CheilJedang (CJ) a food and bioengineering company. It was just this Spring (PT, May 2016) that we reported that the two companies has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for a strategic commercial manufacturing arrangement for specialty PHAs, including the company’s newly-launched amorphous PHA (a-PHA), in what was thought to be the way of bringing Metabolic much closer to realizing its vision for large-scale production.
Under that agreement, CJ was to fund, construct and operate a 20-million/lb PHA production unit at its Fort Dodge, Iowa facility, based on Metabolix’s PHA technology. This facility is operated by CJ’s division CJ BIO, a world leader in microbial fermentation based R&D and manufacturing for a range of amino acids, including lysine, as well as nucleotides. It is not clear how CJ will proceed, but back in May, head of CJ BIO Hang Duk Roh, noted that Metabolix’s specialty PHA materials are well aligned technical and commercially with the company’s strategy to diversify its products. Also, that the a-PHAs were of the most interest—Metabolix made this shift to focus on a-PHA as a performance additive for PVC and PLA.