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Metabolix exiting bioplastics business


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July 26, 2016 by Canadian Plastics

Bioplastics maker Metabolix Inc. is getting out of the bioplastics business.

In a statement, Woburn, Mass.-based Metabolix said it will look to sell its biopolymers business assets. The move will eliminate 45 jobs at the biopolymers and corporate levels, which represents 50 per cent of the firm’s total workforce.

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Metabolix said it is implementing “a strategic restructuring” that will see it focus on crop enhancement technology.

“With this realignment and focus…[on] crop science technologies, we are starting a new chapter for the company which we hope will create significant value as we work to develop and commercialize innovative approaches to step-change yield improvements for important food and feed crops like canola, soybean and corn,” said Metabolix president and CEO Joseph Shaulson. “This is a dramatic restructuring and an unfortunate but necessary step to bring the company forward with a new strategy based on what we believe are the most exciting and promising technologies in our portfolio.”

After the restructuring and wind-down of the biopolymers operation, Metabolix’s annual cash burn rate is expected to be in the range of US$5 million compared to approximately US$25 million prior to the restructuring, the company’s statement said.

In a statement in May 2016, Metabolix announced that it was “exploring strategic alternatives” for its specialty biopolymers business and for its crop science program. The company cited outside strategic interest in its biopolymers business as well as a challenging financing environment as key considerations leading to this development. “[We are] exploring the availability of equity or debt bridge financing, including debt financing that may be secured by the company’s intellectual property and other assets,” the statement said.

Founded in 1992, Metabolix is best known for manufacturing its Mirel PHA biopolymers as performance additives in target applications.