2 Sep 2013

Polystyrene alternative secures research funding

1:23 pm on 2 September 2013

A New Zealand joint venture which has developed a plant based alternative to polystyrene has had a funding boost in the latest round of government research grants.

The Biopolymer Network is a collaboration between forest research institute Scion, AgResearch and Plant and Food.

It is getting more than $11 million over six years to continue the development of new plastics from plant materials to reduce the reliance on oil.

Scion general manager for research and investments Russell Burton says in its biggest breakthrough so far, the network has achieved a world first by developing a new foam material from a corn extract.

He says that will compete head to head with expanding the production of polystyrene, which is used to export fish and high value products but does not degrade.

Dr Burton says the product the researchers have created will decompose in the right conditions in an industrial compost plant.

He says the Biopolymer Network has also received a $6 million high value manufacturing research grant.