Novatein is a bioplastic under development by Aduro Biopolymers LP.
At first glance, the idea behind Novatein seems unconventional; turning a co-product of the red meat industry, into a bioplastic. Novatein uses bloodmeal which is used as a fertilizer and sometimes as an animal feed. How can you make plastic from this source? Aren’t plastics made from petrochemicals?
As it turns out, plastic is formed from a polymer which is simply a molecule of repeating structural units. Polymers are also present in proteins that are essential for life. Bioplastics are plastics derived from polymers sourced from biomass like plant material and algae and animal proteins.
In 2007 at the University of Waikato, Dr Johan Verbeek built a team of student researchers to investigate whether a commercially useful bioplastic could be made from co-products of the red meat industry.
The result is Novatein, a bioplastic material which can be reformulated, modified and optimised to suit a particular products attributes. For example, pots, containers, pegs and weed matting have different characteristics and properties, so a bioplastic formulation would be different for each one. Researchers have also modified the colour of bloodmeal with the resulting bioplastic having a translucent honey coloured appearance with improved properties.