Europe is legislatively circumscribing the use of plastic, at least where it is not needed. Shopkeepers and restaurateurs are well a ware that by 2021 they will no longer be able to offer takeaway dishes with plastic plates and cutlery (strangely, drink receptacles will still be permitted). A recent analysis requested by the Directorate-General for Environment of the European Commission and conducted by the Belgian company Arcadis, reveals that on the beaches of the Mediterranean plastic is the prevalent form of waste (63%), followed by paper and cardboard including cigarette butts (22%), medical waste (7%) and glass (4%). And he points out that most of the waste on the beaches doesn't come from far away, but is produced on-site by tourists. It is therefore not a coincidence that they are focusing a lot of attention on the prospect of more sustainable options for disposable tableware. Among the best known is Biotrem, which since the nineties has focused on the production of bran dishes. The inventor, the Polish Jerzy Wysocki, descends from a family of millers and today Biotrem is a company that focuses on completely biodegradable dishes and cutlery based on sustainable organic raw materials, such as wheat bran, corn bran, cassava by-products, seaweed, algae, and also bio-based polymers.
Could you explain to us how your production process works?
B: Biotrem technology is based on natural chemical composition and specific physical properties for many organic raw materials, such as wheat bran, corn bran, cassava by-products, seaweed, etc. That allows us to produce plates, bowls, cups, without the need to use any plasticisers or other chemical compounds. Just natural, organic raw materials. Biotrem’s main product line is fully biodegradable disposable tableware produced from compressed wheat bran. One tonne of wheat bran can be transformed into up to 10,000 plates, bowls or cups.
How long does it take your products to fully biodegrade?
B: Biotrem wheat bran disposable products are extremely environmentally friendly and fully compostable (no industrial composting required) within just 30 days. An independent research institute ran a life-cycle assessment study on Biotrem products, which showed that 1 kilogram of wheat bran products generates in total, taking into account the whole wheat cultivation process, transportation, processing and utilisation, around 1.3 kilograms of CO2, meanwhile 1 kilogram of polystyrene disposable plates or cups generates in total around 8.5 kilograms of CO2.
Where do you find the raw material?
B: Wheat bran and other plant-based raw materials are available in high volumes almost everywhere around the globe and are just waiting to be used in the proper way. Which means we could easily build our production lines anywhere with easy access to bran in Europe, both Americas, Asia, Africa. Globally, the milling industry produces around 167 million tonnes of wheat bran (a by-product of the milling process) a year and most of it is simply wasted. Meanwhile, with our technology, it could be easily turned into around 1.6 trillion pieces of wheat bran tableware (plates, bowls, cups).
Even more importantly, Biotrem technology allows us to manufacture biodegradable disposable tableware from many sustainable organic raw materials, using not only wheat bran, but also corn bran, cassava by-products, seaweed, algae, etc.