Innovation That Matters

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Modified microbes create alternatives to plastic


Could this bio-based material replace petroleum-based plastic packaging?

Spotted: The MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region, is an area particularly affected by the glut of plastic pollution. Egypt alone consumes around 12 billion plastic bags annually and once these bags are thrown away, they release chemicals that cause respiratory illness, especially in children.

Egypt is working to reduce the use of plastic bags, and startup Natrify is doing its part to help. The Cairo-based company is the first of its kind in the MENA region to use genetically modified microorganisms to produce biopolymers for use in plastic manufacturing.

The company’s product, Adigide, is produced by first growing microorganisms in fermentation tanks. After fermentation, the polymer is extracted, dried into powder and formed into a resin that can then be used to create packaging. Because it is bio-based, the packaging will biodegrade naturally. Adigide will also cost a similar price to conventional plastic.

Natrify has recently raised a six-figure sum in a pre-seed funding round led by Ambo ventures, a VC fund focused on investing in startups based in Africa. The funding will be used to launch a pilot facility, which the company hopes will be followed by three more facilities – the fourth will have a total annual capacity of 70,000 tons.

The company has already signed a deal to facilitate Adigide’s entrance to the US market and hopes to launch a licensing deal in the UK this year. The company also aims to develop product lines that include bottles and packaging for the beauty market.

Written By: Lisa Magloff



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