An El Segundo maker of bio-based plastics has agreed to supply its resin to the manufacturer of one of the world’s first biodegradable pens.

Cereplast Inc. says it inked a deal with S.R. Promocionais Ltda., based in Sao Paulo, Brazil, to make organic resin for that company’s new Eko BIO pen. Resin in the raw material from which plastic is made.

The pen, which is supposed to look and perform like a standard ballpoint, has been available in Brazil and South America since June and is expected to start showing up on store shelves in the United States in the fall.

Resin produced at Cereplast’s facility in Seymour, Ind., is made from corn, wheat, tapioca and potato starches instead of a petroleum base. As a result, it is biodegradable, reverting back to its natural elements at a compost center in less than six months.

“It looks like a traditional pen and you will not be able to tell the difference,” said Frederick Scheer, the company’s chief executive. “It’s the first pen of its kind made from our product.”

The plastic components manufactured from Cereplast’s resin are used for the pen’s packaging, cap and body. The ball and ink case are made from tungsten, while the ink is nontoxic and supplied by an Italian company.

The deal isn’t a big one for Cereplast, which has said it has entered into agreements to ship 16 million pounds of resin in 2010 to a customer base that includes the maker of Solo disposable cups and Dorel Juvenile, a Canadian maker of infant products.

Scheer estimates the S.R. Promocionais agreement will only add “a few thousand pounds of resin” to the company’s production base, but he said he’s excited about the deal, which should provide good marketing opportunities.

“In a couple of weeks, I should have 5,000 or 6,000 (pens) in my office,” he said.

The deal comes on the heels of a tough 2009 for Cereplast, which saw sales fall 50 percent amid the recession, forcing it to lay off 45 of its 70 workers. The first quarter wasn’t much better. The company trimmed its losses by a few hundred thousand dollars but the red ink still totaled $1.69 million.

The company attributed the decline to the fact that it had moved manufacturing operations from California to Indiana, forcing operations to be temporarily suspended. But big investors still seem interested in the company.

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