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Sustainable packaging startup Bpacks unveils bioplastics from bark: ‘It’s a massively underutilized natural resource’

🌈 Abstract

The article discusses a sustainable packaging startup called Bpacks that has developed the world's first bark-based biodegradable bioplastics to replace petroleum-based rigid plastics used for various products. The company combines bark from timber production, used coffee grounds, and other bio-based materials to create sheets and granules/pellets that can be used by packaging manufacturers.

🙋 Q&A

[01] Bpacks' Biodegradable Bioplastics

1. What are the key features of Bpacks' biodegradable bioplastics?

  • The bioplastics are 100% home-compostable and can fully decompose in moist soil within 1-2 months.
  • The production process does not involve solvents and can be integrated with existing plastic production equipment, eliminating the need for plastic factories to purchase new equipment.
  • Up to 75% of the materials used are sourced from production waste such as bark and used coffee grounds.

2. How do Bpacks' bioplastics compare to other biodegradable bioplastics in the market?

  • Traditional biodegradable bioplastics often struggle to compete with plastic counterparts in terms of pricing and integration complexity.
  • Bpacks' bioplastics can be manufactured using existing plastic production equipment, making it easier for companies to adopt.
  • Other biodegradable bioplastics like PLA, PBAT, and PHAs are available, but in very low amounts compared to the rigid packaging industry.

3. What are the advantages of using bark as a raw material for bioplastics?

  • Bark is a massively underutilized natural resource, and most of it ends up as waste.
  • Bark has interesting properties like antimicrobial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties, although extracting these typically requires high amounts of harmful chemicals.
  • Using bark as a raw material makes the bioplastics almost free, as it is a waste product from timber production.

[02] Bpacks' Business Model and Partnerships

1. How does Bpacks plan to scale and commercialize its technology?

  • Bpacks has a small-scale lab but can also license its technology to plastic packaging companies, allowing them to use existing production equipment to manufacture the bioplastic granules.
  • The company has been funded by the founders' capital and a small group of private investors so far.

2. What are the potential applications and benefits of Bpacks' packaging?

  • The packaging is ideal for fruits, vegetables, and meats, as it can extend shelf-life due to its antimicrobial properties.
  • Bpacks is currently validating the shelf-life extension claims through testing at independent third-party labs.
  • The company aims to be competitive with petroleum-based products in terms of pricing.

3. What is the current state and future outlook of the bioplastics market?

  • Bioplastics currently make up less than 1% of the global plastics market, but are expected to grow significantly in the coming years as companies face pressure to reduce their carbon footprint and meet legislative requirements.
  • The global bioplastics market size was estimated at $11.2 billion in 2021 and is projected to reach $46.1 billion by 2030.
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