Your Reading List

Creating A New Generation Of Smart Materials

Some things are not meant to last forever. This includes biodegradable plastic products made from Solanyl.

Solanyl Biopolymers Inc., based in Carberry, Man., manufactures starch-based biodegradable polymers that are used to create new and innovative environmentally friendly products.

The company was established in 2005 by potato farmers Derek and Earl McLaren, who wanted to further process the industrial byproduct of Manitoba food processors. In Europe, a technology of bioplastics for this purpose was already in the commercial stage. As a result, an international partnership was formed with Rodenburg Biopolymers B. V. from the Netherlands with the goal to bring biodegradable plastics to North America.

Solanyl Biopolymers applied to the Manitoba Rural Adaptation Council (MRAC) in 2007 for funding to further their vision.

“The MRAC funding has been instrumental in our project,” said Derek McLaren, managing director of Solanyl Biopolymers.

Solanyl biodegradable plastic resins are a renewable substitute for petroleum-based plastics, especially for short life or disposable plastic products.

“We’re not here to replace plastic, we just want to offer an alternative,” said Ferdi van Dongen, president and CEO of Solanyl Biopolymers Inc. “We’ll supply the niche plastic market.”

These plastics are made from reclaimed potato starch using a patented process which converts the potato starch into a plastic-like resin that can be heated and shaped into a variety of products through the injection moulding process. Solanyl receives this potato starch, which is considered an industrial byproduct, from the local McCain and Simplot plants.

Solanyl bioplastics can also be composted returning carbon back to the soil to be used again as an energy source for plants. This makes Solanyl a carbon-neutral and sustainable resource to be used in numerous applications.

With financial assistance from MRAC, Solanyl Biopolymers is creating a new generation of smart materials. And van Dongen sees a bright future for these materials.

“People are much more motivated now to be environmentally friendly,” he said.

For more information please visit

About the author



Stories from our other publications