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Not Just a Packaging Material Anymore: Conference Sparks New Ideas for Polylactic Acid Us

Thursday, December 4, 2008

PHILADELPHIA — Specialty materials company Rohm and Haas (NYSE:ROH) today announced that the recent “Innovation Takes Root” conference hosted by NatureWorks LLC., provided an ideal forum to explore innovative future applications for sustainable, corn-derived polylactic acid (PLA) and its alloys. “As the only large volume, commercially available bioplastic, polylactic acid is attracting keen attention – and not only for packaging applications,” says Rob Martin, marketing manager at Rohm and Haas, which leads the industry in supplying PLA processing additives. “It was an exciting conference where presenters discussed the material’s future. Attendees mentioned higher temperature packaging applications and possible future uses in alloys with petroleum-based polymers for office equipment and cell phone housings.” PLA already has attracted much attention from packaging manufacturers who must meet retailers’ increasing demands for environmentally advanced packaging. The material often appears in clear thermoform or vacuform disposable, clamshell-type food containers.

In a well-attended session at the conference, Rohm and Haas’s Senior Scientist Dr. Bahar Azimipour presented details about the company’s PLA additives and their importance as PLA expands its reach. “Packaging comprises more than half of PLA’s commercial applications, but its further growth in this arena has been constrained by processing difficulties,” Dr. Azimipour explains. “We designed our products specifically to offer solutions that help customers grow their businesses in packaging – and in the exciting new applications they’re exploring.”

Rohm and Haas offers a variety of acrylic additives that enhance PLA processing, including Paraloid™ BPM-500 impact modifier and two new products: the second generation Paraloid™ BPM-515 impact modifier and Paraloid™ BPMS-250 melt strength enhancer. Rohm and Haas introduced Paraloid BPM-500 a year ago to improve impact resistance of finished products and prevent sheet shattering during cutting and punching. Second-generation Paraloid BPM-515 recently joined the popular product line and will be available in the fourth quarter of this year. “The new product is a high efficiency impact modifier that promises to reduce the cost of impact modifying PLA,” explains Martin. “It may halve the costs depending on loading and performance parameters.” The new Paraloid BPMS-250 melt strength enhancer adds higher melt strength as PLA is processed during film and sheet extrusion, blown film extrusion or calendering. The additive enables high line speeds, reduces equipment difficulties and lowers costs at levels as low as just two percent of the mixture. Paraloid BPMS-250 also complies with U.S. Food and Drug Administration requirements and EU Directive 2002/72/EC.

All the products retain the exceptional clarity of PLA, a critical attribute as manufacturers produce environmentally advanced products that are attractive and draw the consumer eye. “We specifically designed these products to be completely miscible for those applications where extremely high clarity is needed,” explains Martin. “They’re the best additives on the market for preserving this crucial quality.”

Rohm and Haas recently received a prestigious National Historic Chemical Landmark designation from the American Chemical Society for its acrylic technology, which is used in the Paraloid™ product line. For more information about these Paraloid products or other packaging solutions please visit us at

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