A bioplastics startup in Columbus, Ohio has created a soy-based polymer that replaces up to 40 percent of the petroleum in polypropylene and polyethylene used in industrial durable goods. The company, Biobent Polymers, first started generating interest in 2012, and is now edging closer to opening its first production line. According to founder and owner Keith Masavage, Biobent owns the lone worldwide license to the technology needed to create the unique polymer.

The development of biobased fibers is part of a larger green manufacturing revolution in the agriculture industry. Last year, Lucintel projected the natural fiber composites market to grow 11.2 percent from 2014 to 2019. In addition to its environmental impact, Masavage says soy can also help manufacturers save money.

“Manufacturers can save several pennies on the dollar, and the environment at the same time, by using the green technology to help build their various products,” said Masavage. “Depending on the price of the base resin, manufacturers can save 3 to 18 percent on the cost of the raw materials that go into making their products.”

Masavage believes some of the most promising commercial applications for the polymer include trash cans, plastic totes, industrial pails and cosmetics.

To learn more about biobased fibers, read A Natural Fit: Advances in Biobased Fibers in our November/December 2014 issue.