Bio-based alternatives to single-use plastics

Suzano Ventures invests up to US$5 million into Bioform Technologies to further develop bio-based plastic alternatives

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Suzano Ventures, the corporate venture capital arm of Suzano has made a strategic investment into the Canadian materials science startup, Bioform Technologies. The investment provides up to US$5 million towards the company’s seed round, enabling it to accelerate the development of its novel bio-based plastic alternatives. The products can be manufactured through modified industrial processes already used in the pulp and paper sector.

Bioform’s proprietary technology rapidly produces wood pulp-reinforced hydrogels to create high-performance plastic alternatives, which can be made using Suzano’s wood pulp fibre as a key input. Bioform’s materials have the potential to be home compostable or recycled through existing paper recycling processes and do not require fossil-based inputs. The technology is highly versatile and has a number of applications where it could replace conventional single-use plastics, including paper recyclable thermoformable films for packaging applications and compostable heat-sealable films for pouches, agriculture, and garbage bags.

With the potential to offer an 80 percent lower carbon footprint than conventional single-use plastics, Bioform’s technology has similar or enhanced product performance to conventional plastics in areas such as tensile strength and permeability for oxygen or water vapor.

Chris Clark, Chief Executive Officer of Bioform Technologies, said: “Our goal is to produce sustainable alternatives to single-use plastics at the speed of paper and at the cost of plastic. We are harnessing the speed and efficiency of pulp and paper manufacturing to make swift and impactful steps into the marketplace. The technical validation and strategic investment from Suzano Ventures gives us a link to the world’s largest market pulp producer. We can also access Suzano’s world-leading expertise to help us rapidly accelerate the production efficiencies and cost reductions needed to make a significant reduction in the reliance on single-use plastics.”

Paula Puzzi, Senior Manager at Suzano Ventures, said: “We’ve looked closely at Bioform’s technology and we see great promise in their technology and ability to disrupt the industry. Around the world, there are a number of innovations being developed that each offer more sustainable alternatives to the mountains of single-use plastic that we throw away each year, polluting our cities and soils, rivers, and seas. The great challenge is scaling production and getting to cost competitiveness versus cheap single-use plastic. By using renewable material and harnessing established industrial processes and machinery from the pulp and paper sector, we believe that Bioform has the opportunity to disrupt established supply chains and rapidly replace the need for fossil-based materials.”

Bioform has previously raised US$2.4 million from direct investments and US$1.2 million from non-dilutive sources to streamline its technology and validate performance and processes in its labs. This funding from Suzano Ventures will enable the company to realize a demonstration facility to pilot its manufacturing process and expand its team and capabilities.

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