Partnering opportunity

An Estonian company which developed a method for production of biodegradable tableware made of reed is looking for technical cooperation partners

Summary

The Estonian company has developed a proprietary method for producing 100% biodegradable tableware products from reed (an abundantly available wetland plant). Thanks to reed's mouldability and ability to withstand water, it is suitable for the production of various disposable tableware (e.g. plates, cups) to replace the ubiquitous plastic that is deadly for animals. Development partners from the industry under technical cooperation agreement are sought.

Partner sought

Industry partners from the disposable tableware market are sought after. The role of the partner is to support the development of the finalized products, i.e. utilizing the novel reed-based material for producing specific items such as plates or cups. Industrial manufacturing know-how and support is appreciated.

Description

Plastic disposables have become ingrained in our daily life due to increased life pace resulting in grabbing everything to-go. The plastic cup from our favorite coffee shop is in use for mere minutes, while it takes up to 1000 years to decompose after disposal. This has led to severe plastic pollution in our seas and oceans, which consequently has proved to be deadly for marine animals. The plastic has also reached our human food chain by eating plastic contaminated fish or by ingesting micro-plastics through our drinking water. Current alternatives that are looking to replace plastic include paper, bioplastic, bamboo, palm leaves, banana leaves, sugarcane, etc. However, all these alternative raw material sources have their respective environmental aspects that need to be taken under consideration such as availability, composting requirements and additives. To help solve the global problem, the Estonia based start-up has developed a proprietary production method for turning reed into a manufacturable raw material without any use of hazardous chemicals or plastics. This allows the production of biodegradable tableware products made of reed. The overall production method consists of 5 main processes during which the reed is manipulated in order to produce a wide range of end products such as plates and cups. Industry standard equipment can be used for the production on said tableware. The company is looking to establish a technical cooperation agreement with partners in the disposable tableware industry. The objective of the cooperation is to finalize the production method and conduct tests and pilots with new reed-based products.

Advantages and innovations

The given company utilizes locally sourced reed as a raw material for the production of various end products. The advantage of using reed stands in its polymer-free and quickly renewable property, which is also abundantly available in the Baltic Sea region (approx. 2,4 M tonnes) and in other areas of the world. Reed has to be cut down yearly in order to stop the overgrowth on the seas and to protect the variety of different species. As such it incurs no loss to the environment and has entirely sustainable life-cycle. This is in contrast to other alternatives like paper where the falling of trees incurs high costs to the environment. The fact that reed is a plant that grows in wetlands, makes it useful for disposable tableware as it is able to withstand water even after multiple uses. This is achieved without any additions of chemicals, making it 100% biodegradable and also safe for the use together with foodstuff. This is in stark contrast with other alternatives where coating with chemicals or even with thin plastic layer is a common practise to make water absorbing materials water resistant (e.g. paper, palm leaves). Furthermore, all parts of reed (including leaves) can be used in the manufacturing process of different consumer products, contributing to the zero-waste goal. In contrast, in the process of corn starch-based products 90% of the biomass remains unused. The proprietary manufacturing process of the reed-based material is also low in energy and in water consumption compared to the pulp and paper industry. Thus, similarly incurring little damage to the environment throughout its life-cycle. As a result, the tableware made of reed has several advantages: - biodegradability in nature within months; - raw material’s quickly renewable property; - low consumption of energy and water; - ability to withstand water without any additions of chemicals; - safety for using with foodstuff, since no additional chemicals have been added.

Development stage

Prototype available for demonstration

Intellectual Property Rights (IPR)

Secret Know-how


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