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May 192010
 

From Green Right Now Reports

Waste Management, Inc. today announced it participated in a $6.9 million strategic investment in MicroGREEN Polymers, Inc. as part of a Series B round of financing. Houston-based Waste Management joined Seattle-based WRF Capital, Northwest Energy Angels and other private investors in the funding.

MicroGREEN is a plastics company that uses patented technology to reduce the amount of plastic required for the production of consumer products, thereby significantly lowering raw material costs. The company said the new funds will be used to increase engineering, sales and marketing staff, and expand its commercial production capabilities for a wide range of consumer products.

Arlington, Wash.-based MicroGREEN said its Ad-air technology creates bubbles within solid-state plastics to expand the plastic and improve its functionality by creating an internal microcellular structure that is lighter in weight, more insulating, strong and highly reflective. The technology does not involve petrochemical blowing agents or volatile organic compounds in the manufacturing process, and is said to work especially well with recycled PET (rPET) – the world’s most recycled plastic, commonly used to create beverage bottles.

Later this year, MicroGREEN will begin offering a line of Ad-air enhanced rPET sheets in various gauges for converters to transform into consumer products and packaging. The company also plans to launch its first converted product – a low-density, thermally-insulating beverage cup that is recyclable and is itself made from recycled material. MicroGREEN is initially targeting consumer foodservice applications, which according to Global Industry Analysts will represent an over $16 billion market in the United States by 2015.

In a recent lifecycle inventory and analysis study of hot beverage cups conducted by Franklin Associates, Ad-air technology as applied to a recycled PET hot beverage cup has the lowest total amount of energy required to produce a hot beverage cup and the lowest total solid waste as measured in both volume and weight when compared to expanded polystyrene (EPS) and coated paperboard hot beverage cups, the two most commonly used in the market today.

Waste Management said the investment in MicroGREEN Polymers complements its recycling operations and will help the company meet two of its sustainability goals: tripling the amount of recyclables it processes by 2020, and investing in emerging technologies for managing waste.

“Investing in new technologies and companies, such as MicroGREEN Polymers, will enable us to extract more value from the materials we manage than anyone else in our industry,” Pat DeRueda, president of WM Recycling, said in a statement. “As North America’s largest residential recycler, we handle a growing stream of PET and other plastics that can provide the feedstock for Ad-air technology. This could create more value from the materials we recover at our recycling facilities every day.”