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Magna Signs Agreement with Bio-on

February 12, 2014

Magna International, a global automotive supplier, and bio-on, an Italian intellectual property company, have signed a cooperation agreement on December 13, 2013, to start exclusive R&D activities on the use of bio plastics for the automotive industry.

According to a release, bio-on has developed a new kind of bio plastic created through the use of naturally occurring bacteria, which feed off sugar beet by-products. In the process of fermentation, the material is turned into plastic (polyhydroxyalkanoate or PHA). The result is fully biodegradable in water and soil, an environmentally friendly product that does not rely on food as a natural resource and could provide alternatives to conventional plastics for the automotive industry.

Magna, through its Interiors operating unit, said it is pairing its automotive know-how with bio-on's chemical experience to research how production of this natural polyester product can be elevated to a scale. Additionally, the two companies will test and evaluate how bio-on bio plastics will perform in different standard industry processes such as thermoforming. Magna Interiors will utilize its facility in Liberec, Czech Republic, for joint testing.

"Our material has already demonstrated great potential in diverse industries and we now want to apply it to the automotive sector as well," says Marco Astorri, CEO and co-founder of bio-on. "Through this partnership, bio-on hopes to contribute significantly to meeting the global need for a greener future mobility, with lower environmental impact."

"As a leading global automotive supplier, Magna is leveraging its manufacturing expertise to partner with bio-on to deliver a potential game-changing innovation to the industry," said Albert Lidauer, President Magna Interiors Global. "We are excited about the possibilities this cooperation offers us to further support our customers in pursuit of environmentally friendly vehicles."

Magna noted that bio-on has developed and protect the bio plastic PHAs that are 100 percent naturally biodegradable in water and soil. An outstanding product that is derived from the transformation of beet and cane sugar production residues (in Italy in partnership with Co.Pro.B.), using a natural production process with no organic solvents. The product also biodegrades in river water in a few weeks, leaving no trace. The PHA bio plastic developed by bio-on turns a waste product that would otherwise be discarded (a cost therefore becomes a resource) and therefore has no impact on the food chain, unlike other types of "organic" products such as biofuels or other bio plastics that use cereals.

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