Plastic was the biggest invention in the beginning of the last century making our lives easier, but at the same time polluting our environment. We have a reached a point when we are almost drowning in plastic, therefore some measures need to be taken in order to prevent further pollution of Nature.
All of us find it convenient the use of plastic straws and disposable cutlery, but they also contribute to the pollution. Hence, the need for eco- friendly alternatives has highly risen. In 2012, the Mexican company, Michoacán-based Biofase had focused on the production of biodegradable cutlery and straws made out of avocado seeds. The global market for bioplastic is $5.8 billion, so this invention could really make a difference.
Mexico is a huge source of avocado seed that usually end up being burned at landfill sites in Mexico. According to Bioplastic News, Mexico produces 300,000 pounds of avocados which is half of the world’s supply.
The idea of using avocado seeds came from Scott Munguía who at the time was a chemical engineering student. In the beginning he used mango and mamey sapote seeds, and in those researches he came across a paper that had a picture of the corn molecule and he related to the avocado seed molecule.
Once the solution popped up in his mind he started to develop it and after two years working on it, he built a plant. Today this former student has a team of 14 employees working in a plant with a capacity of 700 tons a month.
Munguía needed almost 18 months to develop an effective technique to extract a molecular compound from the avocado pit and thus get a biopolymer that could be converted in any shape.
In 2013, Munguía patented this process and founded Biofase that nowadays produces 100% biodegradable eco-friendly plastic resins and sells them as raw material. Munguía’s success was huge that in 2016, he managed to open a second plant producing bioplastic-based products, such as plastic cutlery, and straws.
For the manufacture of straws and cutlery, Biofase uses tons of avocado pits on daily basis making its products from fully renewable and sustainable sources which is not the case with the common plastics made from fossil-fuel-based polymers.
This technique will greatly contribute to restoring the balance in nature and prevent the ongoing pollution as a result of single-use plastic and the enormous build-up of plastic waste all around the world. Bioplastic products biodegrade after 240 days after their use contrary to the common plastic straws that need at least a couple of centuries to decompose.
On the website of Biofase you can find two types of “Avoplast” products, the first one is 70% vegetable material, and the second one is the patented blend of 100% avocado seed biopolymers and other biodegradable elements. The company produces 130 tons of these products in a month, of which 40% are straws, and 80% of the production is being exported to the United States, Canada, Costa Rica, Colombia, and Peru. For the production are used 15 tons of avocado seeds every day coming from the United States-based food company Simplot, which also operates a plant in Mochoacán. In Mexico these products are highly used making this country their second biggest market. These products are mainly used by chain restaurants such as Chili’s Grill & Bar, P. F. Chang’s China Bistro, and Fiesta Americana.
Although the invention of bioplastic is very important for the environment, the company founder, Scott Munguia, says that people are not that much willing to pay for a product that protects the environment. Naturally, the plastic from avocado seed or other biogradable material is more expensive, but we believe that the self-awareness of people will get higher as we are all aware of the fact that this planet is our only home that we all need to take care of it.