To create EcoGen, we feed naturally occurring bacteria sugar that is obtained from corn starch. These "bugs" digest the sugar and store the resulting PHBV polymer much as the human body would store fat. Extracted from the "bug," the stored "fat" becomes an injection moldable material. This material, Enmat®, is then blended with other biodegradable compounds to enhance its ability to process efficiently in standard injection molding machines. When exposed to microorganisms in compost or soil, EcoGen decomposes into carbon dioxide, water and biomass. Extensive scientific testing has established no harmful toxicity from the process or the end product.
The material's natural decomposition requires exposure to bacteria commonly found in compost and many soils. So it will not deteriorate in the open air or with ordinary use. EcoGen can withstand temperatures of 110 degrees Centigrade / 230 degrees Fahrenheit and will last indefinitely under normal conditions.
These first products made from EcoGen will be launched exclusively through The Container Store in April.