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Main Line woman developing prototypes for green packaging

When she moved from Virginia in 2005 and brought her family and business, R&D Green Materials, to Greater Philadelphia, Dara Woerdeman landed in a spot with a lot of talent, energy and unmet needs in green packaging.

She also found a lot of people willing to share advice near her home in Merion Station, where affluent Main Liners with varied start-up experiences are in steady supply.
For Woerdeman, that’s a huge bonus, considering she and her team of three have their hands full working out of the University City Science Center in Philadelphia. She just received a $500,000 grant from the National Science Foundation for her environmentally friendly process of converting plant proteins into biodegradable plastics. Practical applications range from product packaging like containers and microwavable meal trays to tableware and toys.

“There are a number of possible ways, so we have to consider the costs and how we’re able to implement on existing technology and equipment,” says Woerdeman. “It will depend on who the customer is and what kind of equipment is available.

“We’re carefully tailoring our solutions to meet customers’ needs.”

Woerdeman’s background is in polymers and composites and she’s worked in numerous laboratories in the U.S. and abroad (Belgium). Her multi-disciplinary experience is key to bringing greener technology to industry’s packaging needs.

Woerdeman has also received funding from Ben Franklin Technology Partners through her work with Philadelphia University and its Engineering Design Institute.

“I like slow, hands-on growth, but in the short-term, we want to file as many patent applications as we can and that can be very costly, so angel investors is what I’m looking for right now,” says Woerdeman.

Source: Dara Woerdeman, R&D Green Materials.
Writer: Joe Petrucci

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