First Crop of Locally Sourced Canola to Create Biopolymer

Jamie JohansenAgribusiness, bioproducts, Canola

Screen Shot 2014-06-25 at 8.29.40 AMMeredian, Inc., a privately held biopolymer manufacturer, harvested its first locally sourced canola crop in Decatur County, Ga. The harvesting of the 1,000 acres of canola fields planted last year began May 12 and continued through Memorial Day.

Canola is a major component of Meredian’s process to produce biopolymers which are raw materials that can be used for manufacturing a wide range of completely biodegradable plastic products. The company can use any plant derived oil to convert carbon into biopolymers, but canola is the perfect option because it possesses the ability to be grown locally. Growing locally stimulates Georgia’s economy, while allowing Meredian to continue their mission of manufacturing biopolymers from renewable, natural resources that equal or exceed petroleum-based plastics in price and performance.

USDA certified scales and seed analysis equipment were used to check and verify that the crop’s moisture content was within specifications. In some parts of the 1,000 acres that were planted, more than 43 bushels were produced per acre. The success of this season supports Meredian’s decision in choosing locally grown canola as their major source to produce their completely biodegradable PHA.

Currently, Meredian Inc. is repurposing a one-million square foot facility where the equipment will clean and crush canola seeds into oil by a solvent and toxin-free, cold press process. Once the equipment is installed, the majority of the seeds recently harvested will be crushed to produce oil for the current PHA production needs.

The seeds that are not crushed to meet production needs will be used for next year’s harvest, which will be planted this fall and set to be harvested in Spring 2015. Meredian expects between 10,000 and 15,000 acres of canola fields to be planted this fall. Eventually, the company hopes to utilize 100,000 acres to grow canola in order to sustain the capacity of their 60 million pound fermentation facility.