Turn on any news channel covering the Norfolk Southern train derailment in Ohio, and chances are you'll hear them mention the chemical vinyl chloride, a hazardous material that is a core ingredient in the making of various plastic components.
While this might be one of the first times you’ve heard of it, vinyl chloride has been around for decades and has been responsible for dozens of ecological disasters in the United States. And while trains indeed hold responsibility for many of these incidents, pipelines, storage containers, and semi-trucks were also found to be responsible for spills.
What this means is even if the Secretary of Transpiration, Pete Buttigieg, manages to prevent any freight-train accidents from ever happening again, this won't stop this toxic chemical from impacting the environment in the future.
With accidents leading to inevitable vinyl chloride spills, it’s clear that the only way to prevent these is to find an alternative. And that’s where a little-known company called Danimer Scientific Inc comes in.
For those of you unfamiliar, Danimer has been working on commercializing a new type of plastic biopolymer that doesn't require petrochemicals, vinyl chloride, and other carcinogens that are typically used in plastic manufacturing. And while this may sound like a bold claim, Danimer has secured several orders from big-brand companies, including Target, Starbucks, and Bacardi.
Despite this, the real potential behind this company stems from a bi-partisan letter signed by 48 lawmakers last week that was sent to the EPA, in which they demanded a complete overhaul of the existing plastic manufacturing regulations. Some lawmakers even called for an outright ban on the chemical Vinyl Chloride.
This push from lawmakers and the public presents a unique opportunity for Danimer to capitalize of this new potential plastic market segment. It's also important to consider that as of 2021, the plastic industry was valued $593 billion U.S. dollars, whereas Danimer's market cap stands at just $201 million as of this writing.
While Danimer certainly has a lot going for it, concerns still remain regarding the company's high cash burn rate, which is quickly eating away it’s remaining reserves. If this continues, Danimer will be forced to announce a share offering to raise more capital and devalue existing shares.
Nevertheless, Danimer remains an intriguing company with much potential if it achieves full-scale commercialization, along with public and legislative support. We’ll certainly keep a close eye on Danimer in the coming months as we see how these potential catalyst's plan out.