Bioplastics : Genecis Bioindustries to launch new biotech platform

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A Canadian biotech firm has secured $6 million in funding for the building of a carbon conversion platform.

Green manufacturing entrepreneur Next Generation Manufacturing Canada (NGEN) provided the capital for Genecis and clean energy provider StormFisher to produce a technology unit with an anaerobic digestion (AD) plant.

The plant will use bacteria to convert food waste into compostable bioplastics.

In a first step, microbes will digest food waste and waste from municipal bins into short chain carbons. In a second step, a separate group of bacteria will feed on said carbon chains and convert them into PHA’s.

PHA is a class of polyester unique for being both biobased (derived from organic materials) and biodegradable (able to break down into its component parts under the influence of microbes). They are known for having a significantly lower ecological footprint.

It can be used for various commercial applications, the end product being fully degradable at the end of its respective life cycle.

A bottle generated from Genecis patented version of PHA degrades within a year unlike conventional plastic bottles which may take anywhere from 100-100 years to break down completely.

The biotechnology platform to be established by Genecis will help the company produce larger quantities of bioplastics for use in manufacturing, specifically in the packaging, agricultural and medical sector.

“Projects such as this demonstrate that Canadian businesses can develop innovative and ground-breaking technologies if they have access to the proper support and resources,” Canadian Minister for Innovation, Science and Industry, François-Philippe Champagne, said in a statement. “This investment allows our country’s businesses to capitalize on Canada’s strengths in the manufacturing sector and develop innovative solutions to environmental problems, which will have a positive impact across the country and around the world.”

PHA has so far not been utilised for mass production on account of its high price point but Genecis version is unique in that it’s less than 30-40% of current market price.

The company states that its output is more cost effective due to recent developments in computational biology. New tools making use of programmable biology now allow for the elimination of certain mechanical processes which originally raised price points.

Though still not fully cost-competitive with carbon-based plastics, NGEN’s investment proves there is a market for compostable bioplastics.

“Our carbon conversion platform will produce materials of the future domestically, create highly skilled local jobs, and accelerate the world’s transition towards a circular economy. Our vision of producing sustainable materials from organic waste is made possible through the support of organizations such as NGen. We are thrilled to have the backing of NGen and their team of industry experts as we push the boundaries of biotechnology to create transformational impact,” Luna Yu, CEO of Genecis, maintained.