Published On: Mon, Apr 5th, 2021

A plant-based plastic, 100% compostable, even from home

Nearly 150 million tons of plastic would have accumulated in the oceans since the 1950s, and 8 million tons would be added each year. At the same time, because it remains difficult to do without plastic, a material with unique features, especially in the fight against food waste, the world continues to produce it in quantity, and in an increasing way. According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, global plastic production has increased from 15 million tons in 1964 to 311 million tons in 2014 and is expected to double again over the next 20 years. 26% of this production is packaging.

If recycling is today the most democratized solution on a global scale to limit the impact of plastic pollution, it proves to be very insufficient in terms of waste reduction: in the United States for example, of the 34.5 million tons of plastics collected in household waste in 2015, only 9.1% were recycled. Of the remainder, 15.5% (or 5.35 million tons) were burned with energy recovery and 75.4% (or 31.4 million tons) were landfilled. If current worldwide production and waste management trends continue, roughly 12,000 Mt of plastic waste will be in landfills or in the natural environment by 2050.

plant based plastic

photo/ carbiolice

That is the reason why the French start-up Carbiolice proposes a new alternative in the fight against plastic pollution. “At Carbiolice, we are convinced that plastic can be useful to humans, without destroying the planet. We just have to multiply its end-of-life alternatives: reduce, reuse, recycle and when that is not possible… compost!”, says Nadia Auclair, CEO of Carbiolice.

The start-up’s innovation, called Evanesto®, is in fact an enzymatic additive that is added during the conventional manufacturing processes of PLA-based products and packaging, a bioplastic of plant origin (based on corn starch or sugar). It accelerates the natural disintegration of this bioplastic so that it can be more quickly assimilated by the micro-organisms in the compost. By accelerating its biodegradation capabilities, this additive allows this plant-based plastic to become 100% compostable, even in domestic conditions, at room temperature. It has just been awarded by the “Solar Impulse Efficient Solution” label, making it one of the 1000 solutions that are changing the world!

More concretely, when they contain Evanesto®, yoghurt pots, food trays, or other plastic packaging will be able to turn into compost, without residue or toxicity, in less than 200 days. By adding compostable bio-based packaging to our biowaste, we can reduce the volume of our garbage by almost half. And it is also an opportunity to increase the production of a natural fertilizer (a real alternative to chemical fertilizers) to feed our agricultural land, which is often deficient of organic matter.

After 4 years of R&D, Carbiolice is now launching the commercialization of its solution globally: about 20 companies are currently testing it on their industrial lines. They are mainly food industry players looking for more environmentally friendly solutions for their packaging (trays, packaging films…), but the single-use plastic market (disposable tableware, bubble wrap…) and the agriculture market (mulching films, horticultural pots…) are also interested in this solution.

The field of possibilities is therefore vast, and Carbiolice is already planning to launch a second generation of additive by 2022, which could be introduced into even thicker and more rigid objects, such as coffee pods. Carbiolice’s ambition for 2025 is to eliminate 5 billion non-recyclable plastic packaging by substituting them with compostable plastics.

Author: Lee Sadawski

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