South Korean eco-friendly biodegradable materials take part in protecting Earth from plastic pollution: Green Bio

신태섭 기자l승인2021.11.25l수정2021.11.25 09:02

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▲ Green Bio / CEO Sanghoon Han

[Plastic Pollution]

Plastic has low production cost and high usability. We can hardly find goods that are not partly or whole made of plastic. From a simple toothbrush to a car, the material has been used in almost all products and it filled our life abundant. On the flip side, however, plastic is one of the main agents polluting the Earth because it takes around 500 to 1,000 years to decompose naturally. In other words, the plastic products first made 150 years ago are still somewhere on earth and seas. The world leaders and conscious businessmen rolled up sleeves in an effort to find alternatives while governments are introducing eco-friendly policies. Despite this effort, however, products made of plastic are still many in the market. Global plastic market is valued around $1 trillion with estimated 13 to 26% yearly growth. As for the biodegradable, the market is valued around $3.6 billion in 2020 on a steady growth rate. However, biodegradable plastic is weak in moisture and heat and has less processability and tensile strength which makes it not that profitable. The good news is that a South Korean eco-friendly materials company Green Bio has developed the improved biodegradable plastic material: PLA Compound G-NATURE. 

 

[PLA Compound G-NATURE]

Green Bio’s biodegradable bag is strong enough to hold 15kg weight and it is biodegraded in 3 to 6 months. Its PLA (Poly Lactic Acid), that makes this possible, is made of cornstarch extract and contains no harmful substances. PLA alone is still not that processable but the company filled up this drawback with its innovative foam technique and eco-friendly coating material. The containers and cups made of this technique can endure more than 130°C without a distortion of the form. And Green Bio named this new material ‘PLA Compound G-NATURE’ and obtained a patent No.2019-0146361. PLA Compound G-NATURE is being used to make lunchboxes, transparent cups, bowls, forks, shopping bags and many more. This new material is near same as the strength of the existing plastic but the price is 35 to 40% cheaper not to mention its eco-friendliness. 

 

[Mulching Film]

Followed by PLA Compound G-NATURE, Green Bio has succeeded development of an alternative agricultural film named Mulching Film (registered to the Public Procurement Service). The making process of Mulching Film is as follows: mix of PLA, PBAT (Poly-Butylene Adipate Terephthalate), starch and rare-earth element – pressing out – processing – products. Mulching Film is biodegraded under the soil in 30 to 180 days at temperatures between 27 and 30°C. “Mulching Film is the sole biodegradable agricultural film under the temperatures of 50°C. In other words, you do not even bury the film underground but throw it away on the mountain as it biodegrades within 180 days maximum” says Sanghoon Han, CEO of Green Bio. 

 

[Green Bio]

Green Bio was established in 2016. The company’s biodegradable materials and processing techniques are unique in the world. The company has obtained 3 patents and an eco-friendly certificate while 5 core technologies are being on the screening for patents at the moment. Some of the products are suppling to Samsung Welstory headquarters, Ourhome and Starbucks Korea. The company also has transferred some of its technologies to a number of countries and is planning to pioneer overseas market by establishing local subsidiaries. CEO Han has received around 9 billion won ($7.5 million) investment from 10 investment firms alongside another 9 billion won guaranteed fund from the Korea SMEs and Startups Agency and the Korea Credit Guarantee Fund this year. With this and the third factory in Hampyeong County to be completed soon, Han targets 13 billion won ($10.9 million) sales this year. The third factory is received by industry experts as to play a hub of eco-friendly container manufacturing. Green Bio has been designated as the first eco-friendly unicorn by the Ministry of SMEs and Startups. (PowerKorea)

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