Allentown Startup Zzyzx Polymers Awarded SBIR Phase II Grant for $737,000

Allentown, Pennsylvania – The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded Zzyzx Polymers (pronounced /ziziks/) a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant in the amount of $737,000. This grant will support research and development efforts on their novel plastic polymers manufacturing process.

“We are grateful to the National Science Foundation for their support of this project and we look forward to bringing our technology to the plastics market,” stated Mike Janse, CEO of Zzyzx.

This SBIR Phase II project will demonstrate the first commercial-scale processing of post-consumer plastic materials for high value applications using an innovative approach known as continuous mechanochemical compatibilization (CMC).

The potential impact of this technology is large. In 2010, only 8% of the 230 million tons of plastic waste generated in the US was recovered for recycling. Unfortunately, the recycling industry continues to struggle with both recovery rates and the processing of recovered plastics. The vast majority of unrecoverable plastic is directed to solid waste streams or landfills, resulting in poor use of non-renewable resources and contributing to environmental contamination. The Zzyzx Polymers project will focus on using CMC to recycle materials without the need for extensive cleaning or sorting, thereby reducing processing steps, and returning value to these materials in a more cost-competitive way.

According to their website, the SBIR program enables small businesses to explore their technological potential and provides the incentive to profit from its commercialization through a competitive awards-based process. In addition to the NSF, several Federal agencies participate in the program such as the National Institute of Health, Department of Defense, Department of Energy and NASA.

Zzyzx Polymers was recently accepted into the business incubation program at the Bridgeworks Enterprise Center, a program of the Allentown Economic Development Corporation. The company has begun setting up their manufacturing equipment in the incubator and is aiming to start producing prototype plastic resins by the end of the summer. Additionally, Zzyzx Polymers has been selected to receive an investment by Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania.

“The support provided by Bridgeworks and Ben Franklin Technology Partners were key to helping us obtain this grant,” said Mark Tapsak, one of the cofounders of the company. “The comments we received back from the NSF specifically pointed out that they were impressed with the support from the commonwealth and with the great startup ecosystem in the Lehigh Valley.”

“These are the types of companies that we have been actively recruiting,” explains Anthony Durante, Program Manager for AEDC. “Zzyzx Polymers is working on an innovative process that potentially has a huge impact on the world and in industry. Having these ‘next-generation of manufacturing’ type companies in our program is simply awesome.”

In addition to the environmental benefits, the success of this Phase II project could have a significant economic impact. It has been found that processing recycled materials creates approximately nine jobs for every 15,000 tons of material recovered per year. If Zzyzx Polymers is successful in commercializing their process, the improved availability of high-quality recycled plastics could improve their use in consumer products and lead to an increase in green jobs.

“The SBIR grant will allow the Zzyzx management team to accelerate the process of launching and growing the company,” added Scott Unger, Executive Director for AEDC. “Ultimately, that means the company is able to create jobs and reach profitability faster than they planned to. We are very excited to see them be awarded this grant.”

About Zzyzx Polymers

Zzyzx /ziziks/ Polymers manufactures plastic pellets, referred to as “resin” in the plastic industry, which is the raw material its customers will use to make their own products. Zzyzx makes plastics that no one else can produce. It accomplishes this by either compatibilizing together various mixed plastics or fillers and plastics. Zzyzx manufactures products that are different from those currently available because its patented process chemically binds the components together in a unique way. This process uses conventional equipment, but in an unconventional configuration.

For more information, please visit their website:

About the Allentown Economic Development Corporation

AEDC is an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to a mission of identifying, encouraging, developing and managing strategic business opportunities for the benefit of Allentown, its citizens, and the Lehigh Valley. Its goal is to improve vacant and underutilized properties by assisting manufacturers, business owners and entrepreneurs in obtaining the resources and opportunities they require for success in the City of Allentown. AEDC offers access to financing and incentives, assistance with brownfield remediation, and support for growing businesses within the City.

For more information, please visit their website: