New CEO of Meredian speaks to Rotary Club

Published 7:40 pm Tuesday, May 17, 2016

MHG, a company formed with the merger of Danimer Plastics and Meredian, was the subject of the Rotary meeting Tuesday.

Michael Smith, the chief operating office, spoke first, making the case for replacing petroleum based plastics with more environmentally friendly plastics that are either biodegradable or compostable. He cited new legislation requiring more bio-based plastics be used, adding they hear daily from companies who say their products have been banned for public health reasons and they need to change.

He said Danimer, which began in 2004, now has customers that have generated $13 million in sales. He described the company as having enormous sales potential and a need to be able to double their capacity to meet the growing demand.

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Danimer uses polylactic acid (PLA), which they purchase from another company to make their resin product. It is used by their customers to make items that are able to be composted.

Meredian makes PHA (polyhydroxy alkanoate) that is biodegradable.

Steve Croskrey, the new CEO at Meredian has been on the job four months. He gave a brief background of his work experience and told of his excitement at being at Meredian. He said he had never seen a situation where growth opportunity was so obvious. He predicted it could be a trillion dollar market.

He explained potential customers are paying Meredian to produce samples for them, and thereby investing in the process.

“We are gonna raise $15 million dollars to expand the business and build a new plant to sell our product on a commercial level. The world is on our doorstep. I envision very rapid growth,” he predicted. He continued, however, saying it would be three years before they would actually be shipping product, concluding, “But I believe it will be extraordinary.”

He explained their process as feeding Canola oil to a special micro bacteria (described as their biggest secret) and that the bacteria then is fattened up and multiplies. When the fermenting canola creates a tank full of bugs they die. Their skin breaks and releases fat. It is bug fat. That is what it is. We dry it out and keep it. We keep the solid and get rid of the liquid.”

The resulting plastic resin is sold to companies who make their products from it.

Research and development processes are continuing to increase yields, reduce processing times and removing costs by simplifying the process.

He indicated they currently had two contracts and three more under negotiation.

A video was shown defining how plastic table cutlery, specifically that used by the military, composts after 8 weeks into tiny small fragments before disappearing.