Arkansas-based startup cycleWood Solutions arranging with a manufacturer to pilot production of lignin-based bags that biodegrade within 150 days, cost 10 times less than other biodegradable plastic bag alternatives

Graziela Medina Shepnick

Graziela Medina Shepnick

Apr 4, 2012 – Industry Intelligence

LOS ANGELES , April 3, 2012 () – Fayetteville, Arkansas-based startup cycleWood Solutions Inc. is hoping to produce a biodegradable alternative to plastic bags using a technology based on lignin, reported Finance & Commerce on April 3.

The patented technology, which originated at the University of Minnesota, produces a bag that as thin and malleable as plastic derived from petroleum but biodegrades within 150 days, said the company.

The bags also are cost-effective as each is priced at about US$0.015 compared with $0.012 for a standard plastic bag and about 10 times as much for a biodegradable bag made from corn or potatoes, says cycleWood’s founders, Finance & Commerce reported.

The company is currently in the process of obtaining biodegradation certification and arranging with a manufacturer to produce the bags on a pilot basis, said Nhiem Cao, cycleWood’s president and CEO.

The project has drawn investment from a Dallas-based venture capital firm, and various retailers are interested in the bags, according to cycleWood, but the company declined to identify the retailers, reported Finance & Commerce.

The goal is to produce the bags on a commercial scale by the end of this year and for unit sales in the U.S. to reach 2.25 billion to 3.5 billion by 2015.

Eventually, the company would like to see the bags in stores across the U.S. It said that equipment now used to make traditional plastic bags can easily be converted to produce the lignin-based bags, Finance & Commerce reported.

The cycleWood bags have won several awards at competitions, including the Wal-Mart Better Living Business Plan Challenge, San Diego State University’s Venture Challenge, and a first-place at the Donald W. Reynolds Governor’s Cup in Arkansas.

The company says on its website that its thermoplastic can be applied to various plastic products, including cups, plates and bags. It calls its “everyday-use plastic bag” the XyloBag, a name it has trademarked.

Cao said that the company wants to be sure that the technology is “used for the good of the whole planet” rather than “keep it all for ourselves.”

Lignin exists in all plants and is mostly a waste product in the biofuels and papermaking industries, reported Finance & Commerce.

The primary source of this article is Finance & Commerce, Minneapolis, Minnesota, on April 3, 2012.

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