The US-based company said Physic Ventures and Flagship Ventures provided the funding to drive the development of the plastics and bring the technology to the market. Over the past few years a range of suppliers have been developing biodegradable and compostable packaging in a bid to meet a market driven by consumer pressure and environmental regulations. Novomer's technology is based on catalysts developed at Cornell University. The technology uses carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide as feedstocks, rather than the grains and other plant-based sources used by competitors in the biodegradable and compostable packaging market. "Unlike other biodegradable plastics coming to market that are based on edible feedstocks and complex fermentation, we are using building blocks that are readily available and highly manageable," said Geoffrey Coates, Novomer's chief science officer. Novomer products will provide both environmental benefits and improved materials performance, said Jean Fréchet, a professor at UC Berkeley and partner at Physic Ventures. "The company's catalyst technology enables the production of polymers and plastics from renewable feedstocks. Many of these polymers are both biocompatible and biodegradable, and constitute a significant discovery and application of new chemical processes and environmentally conscious technology,"he stated. Founded in 2004, Novomer's technology is based on the discoveries of Coates and his research group at Cornell University. Coates works in the field of polymer science and sustainable materials. Novomer is based in Ithaca, New York. Over the past five years packaging suppliers have been introducing various forms of biodegradable materials to replace plastics and foams. These materials are made from a variety of plants, in the main corn, in response to projections that consumers and recycling regulations will drive demand for environmentally-friendly packaging. Some companies predict that the market will grow by about 20 per cent a year, and the products are an alternative to petroleum-based packaging such as the widely-used polyethylene terephthalate (PET). This year Cargill announced it was teaming up with Japan-based Teijin to produce polylactic acid (PLA). A similar alliance has been formed between DuPont and Plantic. Materials such as PLA and PHA are made from a variety of plants. To produce PLA manufacturers use a chemical polymerisation process to transform renewable raw materials such as corn into a biodegradable biopolymer. Meanwhile biodegradable polymers such as polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA), PHV and PHB are produced by the actions of genetically modified micro-organisms. Demand for bioplastics in Europe experienced its first boom last year, according to a survey by the European Bioplastics Association, which has about 70 members. Currently bioplastics account for less than one percent of the European plastics market.