Biome Bioplastics joins minister and industry experts in call for manufacturers to embrace biotechnology

August 2013
Biome Bioplastics joins minister and industry experts in call for manufacturers to embrace biotechnology

Biome Bioplastics, has joined leading manufacturers and the Industrial Biotechnology Leadership Forum in promoting the varied applications of biotechnology at an exhibition at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

Business and Energy Minister Michael Fallon is meeting senior representatives from companies employing industrial biotechnology, including Biome Bioplastics’ CEO Paul Mines, to discuss the significant potential of the UK’s bio-economy.

Business and Energy Minister Michael Fallon said:

The quality of our academic and research centres in the UK is allowing us to lead the way in industrial biotechnology and find innovative ways to replace traditional manufacturing products and processes with cheaper, greener and often more functional alternatives.

To reach our full potential we now need to see the entire manufacturing industry embrace biotechnology, and start looking for every opportunity to integrate it into their production processes. This showcase demonstrates the diversity and creativity of innovative biotech businesses here in the UK that will help us build on the life sciences industrial strategy and compete in the global race.

A diverse range of manufactures in economically important sectors relies on industrial biotechnology in their processing and a number of companies from these sectors are represented at the exhibition, highlighting how other businesses can adopt biotechnology.

Paul Mines, CEO of Biome Bioplastics commented:

Industrial biotechnology has the potential to change the world of plastics. This technology promises bio-based plastics with significantly reduced costs, improved functionality and increased performance. Our UK based research and development activities in this field are fundamental to our ambition to develop high performance bioplastics that challenge the dominance of their oil-based counterparts. World leading academic institutions, scientists with great chemical and biochemical skills and consistent government support make the UK an ideal location for developing, manufacturing and commercialising these advanced materials.


Biome and Industrial Biotechnology

Although existing bioplastics are often based on natural materials, oil-based chemicals are widely used in their manufacture to convey properties including mechanical strength, tear resistance and durability. Deriving these chemicals from a plentiful, natural source could significantly reduce costs, expand functionality and increase performance in bioplastics, enhancing their ability to compete with, and ultimately replace, conventional oil-based plastics.

In a pioneering project, Biome is conducting research into a new source of organic chemicals for the manufacture of bioplastics that could significantly reduce costs and increase performance. Backed by a grant from the Technology Strategy Board and working in partnership with the University of Warwick’s Centre for Biotechnology and Biorefining, the project will investigate the possibility of using lignin as an alternative, bio-based source of chemicals.

Industrial biotechnology underpins processes in a wide range of economically important manufacturing sectors. With calls for manufacturing to become greener, requirements for products with novel properties and the need to offset rising oil costs, biological processes can offer a more sustainable alternative to traditional manufacturing technologies.

Market Potential of Industrial Biotechnology

The industrial biotechnology market is projected to grow up to £360bn globally by 2025 with up to a £12bn share in the UK alone (Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform report, 2009). Whilst much of this potential is yet to be realised, manufacturers are already adopting the use of biological substances, systems and processes to produce materials, chemicals and energy. For example, UK companies are now employing industrial biotechnology to produce biodegradable food packaging from biological materials rather than petroleum.

Rebecca Wood from the Industrial Biotechnology Leadership Forum developed the exhibition to highlight the world-class R&D and industrial biotechnology manufactures in the UK:

We’re showing companies that switching from hydrocarbon to carbohydrate based raw materials and applying biotechnology to manufacturing is an excellent option, economically and environmentally.

The exhibition runs from 5th until 16th August in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills reception area and is open to the public.