Eco performance resins: Rosella interviews Desi Banatao from Entropy Resins

Entropy Resins is an innovative California-based company producing eco performance resins that are being used for a interesting array of applications. Founded by two brothers, Desi and Rey Banatao, Entropy Resins are used for everything from surfboards to tabletops (and jewelry of course!)

The Banatao brothers have been profiled in Forbes, and they were featured as Earth Changers by LA Magazine.

We couldn’t be happier using Entropy Resin for our jewelry -  not only is it a great choice for the environment, it’s a superior product to any other casting resin out there.

We talked to Desi to learn more about resins, Entropy and the many complexities of  running a business with your sibling:

Hess sustainable surfboards

What is resin?
Resin is a pretty broad term but in this case the resin is a liquid then solidifies into a solid or plastic. The solidification process happens by a chemical reaction known as polymerization where individual polymer molecules combine to form the solid.

What is eco resin and how does it differ from other non-eco resins?
Again, the word eco is a fairly broad term but the way we define it is two fold: sustainability and a reduced environmental impact. These two things are not mutually exclusive but our interpretation is that sustainability means using materials that are renewable, more importantly renewable within our lifetime.

The one thing most people overlook is that petroleum is technically renewable as it was originally sourced from bio-based materials that existed millions of years ago. At some point, millions of years from now, assuming the Earth is around then, the bio-based materials existing today will become petroleum. Our goal is to replace these materials with bio-based sources that exist in our environment today and can be replaced within our lifetime.

In terms of reducing environmental impact the one key figure that most people can identify with is the reduction of C02 or greenhouse gas (GHG) output or reduction of carbon footprint. Just because you use plants as a feedstock does not mean that you are reducing the CO2 output of your product. Domestic corn based ethanol fuels is an example of this where there is really no net environmental benefit over petroleum based fuels as it has a net negative carbon footprint, ie it takes more energy to create the fuel then you get out of it.

In our case we try to avoid this issue by using bio-based materials that are either the co-product or from the waste streams of other industrial processes. Using life cycle analysis we have seen up to a 50% reduction in CO2 or GHG equivalents in our resins over those based solely on petroleum. We feel this is a pretty significant figure.

What is epoxy resin and how does it differ from other resins?
Epoxy resins are a form of polymer and its main difference from other resins in that it can be used as a 100% solids material (a little counterintuitive since its a liquid when you get it). Essentially this means you do not have to have a solvent to keep it in liquid form which is common for other polymers such as polyesters. These solvents can be very bad for you. This year the FDA listed styrene, the solvent used in polyester resins, as a carcinogen. This is a big deal in the chemical industry as polyesters are the most common thermoset resin used today and in a lot of products. So since epoxies can be 100% solids or solvent free (aka VOC free) then that makes it a much better resin system to use from an environmental and health and safety perspective.

Can you tell us how Entropy Resins got started?
My brother and I started the business more out of interest in making a finished product but with our backgrounds (chemistry and material science) we slowly gravitated to doing projects more related to technology or technology development. From a project to create an eco-friendly composite product (at the time we had no idea what this meant) we realized that there were really no eco-friendly alternatives for resins in the market so we designed our own and here we are today.

What kind of applications do people use your resins for?
Jewelry, jewelry and more jewelry. Just kidding, but we do love the idea of the jewelry. Today our products are used primarily as a matrix material in composites but we are delighted and surprised everyday with the applications our customers come up with. Today I talked to people making countertops, musical instruments, skis, and of course jewelry.

What’s the most unusual use you’ve heard of someone using Entropy Resins for?
Did I say jewelry already…no, we had an early customer that used our resins as part of an aquarium structure for his pet frog. It was a really nice frog house.

What’s your personal stance on the environment — what do people need to be doing more of? less of?
Wow, that is a tough one. Although we are often out there pounding the eco drum, in everyday life I know its not that simple. If making the eco choice costs the same as the non-eco choice then its a no brainer. Unfortunately the world today is so dependent on cheap materials, energy, etc that the worse environmental choice is often much cheaper than the eco choice. My opinion, do what you can do. Recycle, compost, take public transportation, turn off lights, teleconference, etc. You’d be surprised by how much all these little things add up. We try our best to be price competitive with existing petroleum derived materials to make this choice easy, even if it means we make less money.

And just for fun, because we’re in the same boat — what’s it like working with your brother?
This blog entry isn’t long enough for this question. Working with my brother is great, sucks, fulfilling, frustrating, easy, challenging…in the end we are family and I know that no matter how tough it gets he has my back which makes it work.

What next on the horizon for your business?
We are really focused on two segments, retail (ie DIY market like Rosella), and the industrial market (large commercial users that produce finished goods). I’m not sure which market we will have the most success in but we hope its both. If we can do this that means the world will be a better place and the environment will be the real winner. Plus I need to send my kids to college.

Learn more about Entropy Resins

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