Biodegradable, hydrophobic and flame-resistant
The rapid rate of globalisation has been key to businesses securing lower-cost materials, reaching more customers, and increasing possibilities for overall expansion. Advances in technology and ideas have increased productivity, leading to growth and sales at unprecedented levels.
However, this has not come without cost; this increased volume of packaged products accounts for around 40% of all plastic produced which is roughly 141 million tons of plastic a year (Wrap).
Such plastic pollution has far-reaching implications, altering natural ecosystems and affecting our own health. As plastic is dumped in landfills and waste sites, it is blown into the ocean, suffocating and endangering marine life. These microplastics, when consumed by humans through food and air, are also associated with certain cancers and neurodevelopment disorders, according to the Endocrine Society.
The key challenge is finding the balance between the exponential growth in demand for packaged products while still keeping sustainability at the forefront.
While recycling is often regarded as a plausible solution, the quality of plastic deteriorates every time it is reprocessed. As reprocessed plastic is typically used in lower-quality products and materials, they are also less likely to be recycled again. Only 0.9% of plastic is recycled more than once (Waste2Wear). This leaves innovative alternatives as our best chance in mitigating environmental impacts.
HK Biotech is a prime example of this. Started in 2017, HK Biotech is a start-up working to use new technologies to create sustainable solutions and alternatives for plastic in various industries. Innovating a successful alternative is no simple feat. With the need to persuade both companies and consumers to make such changes, such innovation must be both convenient and work the same or better than the original product.
One of their key products is biodegradable “Mushroom Foam”, which can be used in the same manner as polystyrene foam or paper-based inner packing, but with greater strength and 90% less CO2 emissions.
By solidifying mycelium structures bound with an organic substrate like wheat straw, which would otherwise be burned or disposed of unsustainably, this alternative can be applied to various large polluting industries like clothing, food, and cosmetics. According to HK Biotech, their product is “biodegradable, hydrophobic, flame-resistant… easily shaped, lightweight, and has stronger strength” making it a viable and attractive choice for many companies. By cutting down on the amount of plastic used and preventing the environmentally unsafe disposal of materials, HK Biotech can play a large role in cutting down air pollution and single-use materials.
HK Biotech serves as an example and inspiration for the wave of businesses that are to come. Entrepreneurs are finding ways to develop businesses based on sustainability and innovation, helping other companies gradually move towards more circular business models. As consumers become more conscious of their carbon footprint and the production of their favorite products, the transition to eco-friendly alternatives will only become more necessary.
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Blog Written/ Compiled by @Sarina Uttam, CorpStage