Plastics rule our daily lives but they are often made from petrochemicals linked to environmental damage. With the urgency to find degradable, non-polluting alternatives, Plantic Technologies is emerging as a key player in the market.
Plantic Technologies uses starch derived from corn – a renewable source material – which is heated and put through a chemical modification process called hydroxypropylation to plasticise it.
“The new material consists of a sandwich of corn-based product between two thin layers of recyclable plastics, which results in a product with ultra-high gas-barrier film performance and increased shelf life for meat, fish and dairy,” says CEO Brendan Morris.
The company is now one of Australia’s innovation success stories, having set up resin, film and sheet bio-manufacturing plants in Melbourne and Jena, Germany, backed by an R&D investment of more than $2 million per year.
It’s been a long process since the CRC spin-off company was formed in 2001, with several capital raisings and a listing on the London Stock Exchange in 2007 before privatisation in 2010. Sales have been doubling since 2012, thanks to new products.
Coles supermarkets have adopted the range for their meat and dairy trays, as have Profish Food in the Netherlands, California’s Excelline Foods, and Multivac in New Zealand. The crucial point about Plantic’s eco-plastic range is that its trays and sheets can be directly substituted for traditional materials in the supply chain.
Although most of their products feed into supply chains in Australia and New Zealand, the company’s sights are set on America, as well as new Japanese and Korean retailer channels. “We’re certainly not finished yet and we are working towards a fully biodegradable version of eco plastic,” says Morris.
Name: Plantic Technologies
R&D: >$2 million/year
Reach: Europe, USA, New Zealand, plans for Asia
At a glance: Established in 2001, Plantic Technologies is a bioplastics manufacturing spin-off from the CRC for International Food Manufacture and Packaging Science. It now employs more than 100 people.
– Paul Hendy