The huge quantity of pits discarded by the Mexican avocado food product industry is about to become one of the latest feedstocks for bioplastics. The Mexican company Biofase has developed a 100 percent biodegradable, compostable polymer made from avocado pits and is offering the polymer for use as either resins or additives.
We've discussed other bioplastics and biofuels that use agricultural-industrial waste as feedstocks. The latest one means companies making avocado products in Mexico will no longer need to pay third parties to haul away the pits. Scott Munguia, co-founder of Biofase, told FreshFruitPortal.com that the Mexican avocado industry discards 30,000 metric tons of pits each month.
Biofase has patented its new bioplastic material and the process it developed for converting the monomer in avocado pits. Munguia said his company is looking for other raw biomaterials with the same monomer.
The company is offering two different product lines: the Biocom biodegradable and compostable thermoplastic resins (which are made from renewable sources for the manufacture of plastic products) and biodegradable additives such as Bioblend, which can be blended with petroleum products such as polyethylene, polypropylene, polyvinyl chloride, polystyrene, and cellulose polymers to make them partially biodegradable. Biofase will formally enter the market this year and is projecting production rates of 30 metric tons a month.
Biofase is negotiating with Mexican fertilizer companies interested in using its resins in their plastic packaging, and it is talking to Mexican supermarkets about using the resins in plastic bags. The company is confining its material sources and sales to Mexico for the time being. According to Munguia, the bioplastic market in Mexico is growing at a rate of 20 percent per year.
Biofase is also considering whether to develop its own line of biodegradable, compostable food service items, including cutlery, bags, and cups.
We've thought about having ourselves produce the products directly but we'll need to capitalize on the company. For example, in Mexico, the regulations are more beneficial for bags than injectable products, so we want to see how these government regulation trends develop and if it grows and what would be best to invest in. We're going in but we want to wait for the market to show clearer trends.
The five founders of Biofase -- Munguia, Mauricio Valdes, Carolina Cavazos, Everardo Padilla, and Juan A. Osorio -- developed the technology as a student project at the Tecnologico de Monterrey Campus. In February 2012, the team won first prize in the northeast Mexico FRISA Award competition for Entrepreneurial Development. In July, Biofase was named one of the 20 most promising green companies in Mexico during the Cleantech Challenge Mexico 2012 event, where it received the Technological Innovation Award.
Dave, glad you enjoyed the article. I adore avocados and would eat them everyday if they were in season locally in Northern California. That's one reason I was attracted to this story. Using Google Translate was a pain, but I'm good at figuring out bad translations into English, plus I absorbed a lot of Spanish when living in LA and hanging with my brother's in-laws from Mexico. I'm also familiar with Tec de Monterrey, so was not surprised that this innovation began there as a student project.
Thanks for the article. It would be a great cycle to see the bio-plastic from avocado pits made into biodegradable take out containers! With such a high volume of raw material, the price may be reasonable.
I forget that many parts of the country still use Styrofoam until I leave the Bay Area.
I second Dave's comments. Anytime we can take a waste product like this and convert it to a useful and economic product - we get one step closer to sustainable living. Our planet will thank us in the long run for efforts like these. Thanks for the article, Ann. It was a bright spot in my day.
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