Innovation That Matters

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Turning organic waste into planet-friendly plastic


The material has a wide range of applications, and is currently being explored by Amazon for use in its packaging

Spotted: Petroleum-based plastics are everywhere in our daily lives, from our clothes and cosmetic products to food packaging and deliveries. Though plastic is highly useful, it’s carbon-intensive to manufacture and often isn’t recycled. In fact, of the seven billion tonnes of plastic that have been produced so far, only around 10 per cent has been recycled. 

One way scientists have been tackling the impact of plastic is by replacing it with bio-based alternatives. One of these innovators is Canadian startup Genecis, which creates pollution-free, totally biodegradable PHA (polyhydroxyalkanoate) – a naturally occurring polymer produced by bacteria when they are fed organic waste like leftover food. 

At the end of its usable life, a PHA product will break down safely in the environment without leaving behind microplastics or leaching toxic chemicals. To become even more sustainable in future, the company hopes to use old PHA products as the feedstock for new Genecis bioplastic, creating an entirely closed-loop system and reducing the need for additional resources. 

Mirroring the versatility of traditional plastic, Genecis’ alternative PHA can be used in car interiors, clothing, and packaging. And because the material is natural, it is also safe to use in tools for medical procedures.

The company was recently awarded money from the Female Founder Initiative as part of Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund to help support female innovators. The online retail giant is “currently evaluating ways to use Genecis’ technology”, potentially in packaging for grocery and pharmacy items delivered by Amazon. As well as Amazon, Genecis is currently working with several corporate clients to help design sustainable bioplastic products for their specific use cases.

In the archive, Springwise has spotted a huge variety of other innovators also working to make more sustainable plastic alternatives, including one made from cellulose, and the world’s first biodegradable water bottle.

Written By: Matilda Cox



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