University of Pittsburgh
Innovation Prize Circular Materials Challenge winner
Circular Materials Challenge winner
Category 2: Combining materials that nature can handle
Working together, Full Cycle Bioplastics, Elk Packaging, and Associated Labels and Packaging make a compostable high-performance material from renewable materialsMaterials that are continually replenished at a rate equal to or greater than the rate of depletion., agricultural by-products and food waste to pack a broad range of products from granola bars and crisps to laundry detergent.
Bio-based compostable plastics have not been able to compete with multi-layer packaging films made from several different materials when it comes to their ability to protect food and other sensitive packaged goods. This innovation is a fully bio-based and compostable version of a multi-material film that can be used in everyday packaging like granola bar wrappers, laundry detergent sachets, and crisp bags. After use, the packaging can be composted along with any uneaten food inside it.
This is the first multi-layer packaging film made using cost-competitive, compostable PHA (a naturally occurring biopolymer) produced from organic waste, together with cellulose-based materials made from plant matter. It will provide an effective alternative to oil-based products, with greatly enhanced after-use options. Because the PHA is made from organic waste, compostingMicrobial breakdown of organic matter in the presence of oxygen. the material after use can effectively provide the raw material for making new plastic.
Andrew Falcon, Chief Executive Officer
Having spent the early part of my career working in traditional plastics and packaging, I was increasingly frustrated by the unintended consequences of widespread plastics consumption: bad packaging design leading to inefficient recycling; plastic pollution; lack of alternative materials; and the volatility associated with being tied to the oil-based economy. In searching for alternatives, I learned that one of the biggest challenges in society is to find economically viable solutions to manage the growing volumes of organic waste and its associated greenhouse gas emissions. Our solution can address both critical issues.
We address both plastic pollution and organic waste at a systems level. Transforming organic waste into a high value material will keep it out of landfill and reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. We not only offer a bio-based plastic made from a cost-competitive process, we overcome its inherent weak spots (such as lower than desired oxygen barriers) by combining it with other compostable materials to create a viable alternative to the non-recyclable, multi-layer films on the market today.
The opportunity to work with global leaders in products, materials, and packaging in a collaborative setting is inspiring. The plastics economy is complex and involves multiple players and industries. Aligning the interests of companies involved in waste, materials, conversion, and products is typically a barrier to real change. The Circular Materials Challenge provides a unique opportunity to bring together diverse stakeholders and unite them around a common purpose.
The Ellen MacArthur Foundation works to accelerate the transition to a circular economy. We develop and promote the idea of a circular economy, and work with business, academia, policymakers, and institutions to mobilise systems solutions at scale, globally.
Charity Registration No.: 1130306
OSCR Registration No.: SC043120
Company No.: 6897785
Ellen MacArthur Foundation ANBI RSIN nummer: 8257 45 925
The work of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation is supported by our Strategic Partners and Partners.