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One word - plastics

Anita Truong is a Master of Biomedical Technology graduate at the University of Calgary. She is currently an intern with Genome Alberta for the summer and one of her assignments is to profile some of the participants involved in our #TasteTECH event .

When Dustin Hoffman's character Benjamin Braddock in The Academy Award nominated movie The Graduate was searching for a career,  he received some simple advice. "One word:plastics"

That was in 1967 and  plastics come a long way since then and have now ended up at our annual TasteTECH reception.  Not as plastic utensils (we use compostable bamboo) but as a by-product of food waste.  Joining us this year is Genecis Bioindustries, a company which re-purposes food waste into bioplastics by using microbes. This started when CEO, Luna Yu looked at different ways to extract some value out of waste. By 2017, she and her team had started to cultivate microbes that digested food waste to produce PHA bioplastics - a plastic with a reduced environmental impact.

Compared to traditional manufacturers, Genecis’ PHA plastics are produced using food waste, which are renewable feedstocks high in abundance and which does not require  more land for cultivation. Genecis leverages the use of specialized microbes to generate plastics from the organic waste, differentiating themselves from traditional PHA manufacturers who use sugar feedstocks.

This sustainable alternative diverts waste from landfills, reducing the carbon emissions and accumulation of particulate matter in the environment. The bioplastic itself is biodegradable, breaking down in the natural environment within a year. According to Abdul Khogali, the Chief Business Officer of Genecis, their plastics are “cost-competitive and can generate a 40% cost savings on PHA production.”

Genecis is one of the leaders in Canada in shifting the reliance on petroleum-based plastic to a more sustainable bioplastic option. They hope to penetrate the 3D printing market and use their PHA plastics to produce thermo-resistant food packaging and compostable coffee pods. When asked about the long-term goals of Genecis, they  said they hope to expand their pipeline by turning food waste into other high-value chemicals.

Abdul noted that it “is a great time to be tackling a cleantech problem” and having conversations about tech that are emerging within the food industry is a great step towards building a sustainable future. To learn more about how companies are developing more sustainable products, visit our TasteTECH event on June 5th, 2019 at the TasteMarket by SAIT located in downtown Calgary. Register at http://bit.ly/2vGABS

One word - plastics

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