MINNEAPOLIS, March 23, 2011 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Northern Technologies International Corporation (Nasdaq:NTIC), a manufacturer of sustainable biobased and certified compostable bioplastic materials, announced that it has entered into an agreement with Italy based Naturfuels S.r.l. to distribute its Natur-Tec ® bioplastic materials and products in the Italian market. Since January 1, 2011, the Italian government has been enforcing a ban on the production and distribution of conventional non-biodegradable polyethylene plastic bags. The Italian country-wide ban on conventional plastic bags was first introduced in 2006, but saw little traction until environment minister Stefania Prestigiacomo pushed it through as a blanket decree in December 2010. Italian consumers use about 300 plastic bags per capita annually, totaling to more than 20 billion plastic bags consumed every year. According to environmental lobbyist Legambiente, this number of bags represents approximately one-fifth of Europe's entire usage, and requires about 200,000 Metric Tons of polyethylene plastic resin to produce each year. Under the terms of the distribution agreement, NTIC will supply Naturfuels with its patented high-strength Natur-Tec ® BF703BX compostable film grade resin to be used for the production of bio-plastic shopping and garbage bags on conventional plastic film production equipment. BF703BX resin based film has been previously certified to be fully compostable in strict accordance to the European standard of EN13432 for compostable plastics by AIB-Vincotte, a respected Belgian 3 rd-party certification provider. Naturfuels S.r.l is part of the Mastrandrea Group located in Palo del Colle (Bari), Italy. The Mastrandrea Group, a leader in Europe in biofuels and renewable energy technology, has been active in the green chemistry field in Italy since 1985, and in the mid-nineties became one of the largest suppliers of biodegradable polymer compounds to the Italian market. "Recent legislative mandates, such as the plastic bag ban that went into effect this year in Italy, are driving exceptionally strong demand for bioplastics," said Mr. Vineet Dalal, Vice President and Director of Global Market Development for NTIC. "Italians have been using 20 billion conventional plastic bags a year. The direct substitution of conventional polyethylene as a raw material, with fully biodegradable plastics promises to create an almost billion-dollar market for bioplastics in Italy. Due to its existing relationships with Italian film extruders and plastic bag manufacturers, Naturfuels is the perfect distribution partner for NTIC in Italy."