Next step is export to the US

Mexico: Bioplastic obtained from avocado seeds

In November 2012, the young innovator, Scott Munguía, created the company Biofase after the successful creation of a biopolymer for different uses obtained from avocado seeds. In 2016, the product's average monthly production stood at 500 tonnes, with some intended for the Central American market.

The production plant is located in Morelia, Michoacan, and has an area of ​​3,000 square metres. It is the largest in Latin America and the only one in the world to use avocado seeds to produce biodegradable resins. Its construction involved an investment of 16.5 million pesos from both the federal government and private investors.

The development of chemical engineer Scott Munguía, graduate of the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education, is a compound that disintegrates in 240 days, unlike those made with polystyrene, which take thousands of years.

Mexico is the world's largest avocado producer, with more than 1 million tonnes per year, of which 30,700 tonnes are discarded.

Learning about this figure led to the idea of ​​developing the biopolymer. Scott Munguia explains that "I found that to be an impressive amount of waste, and I thought: I have to do something with those seeds, so I started to study their properties."

Through a patented process, the avocado seed undergoes a chemical modification with the aid of a plasticising agent; this is how it becomes a thermoplastic, and depending on the use you want to give it, it can be mixed with other elements to generate the thermoplastic resin.

The biopolymer's production process, which does not generate hazardous waste, has been patented in Mexico. The project's development counted with the participation of specialists from the Monterrey Institute of Technology and other research centres. The final product is a thermoplastic resin that degrades in less than a year and has a shelf life of close to four. It can be used to manufacture a wide range of products, from thin bags to rigid pieces, such as containers or kitchen utensils.

This discovery, unique in the world, is protected by a Mexican patent and an international patent is on the way. It has already received numerous awards, including the Innovators under 35 Award of the MIT Technology Review, the Technological Innovation Award of Cleantech Challenge Mexico, the Santander Award for Business Innovation and the Banamex Award for Sustainable Enterprise, for its social, economic and environmental impact.

The company Biofase has three business lines: one of them is the production of thermoplastic resin in the form of pellets for the manufacture of bioplastic products; the second generates end products out of this material, such as cutlery, bags, packaging and others; the third one focuses on specific projects based on the company's own technology aimed at meeting the clients' needs.

Although the price of bioplastic is almost double compared to conventional plastics derived from petroleum, Biofase's technology could reduce the final cost by up to a quarter, according to Scott Munguía, who adds that to achieve this they are working on the improvement of the processes.

"We are achieving everything we always wanted in terms of technology, which was to have a resin with the quality we expected and able to completely replace polypropylene, polystyrene and polyethylene, aiming also for it to have an affordable price, because in the industry, the issue of prices in bioplastics is a very large barrier," explains the young entrepreneur.

The next step is to export to the United States, the world's largest bioplastic market, and where nine percent of all plastic used is of this sort.

"We want to position ourselves in Mexico as the largest manufacturer of bioplastics and make it clear in the international markets that Mexico has the latest technology and is fully ready to enter such markets."

Source: Agencia ID

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