Leaving no Plastic to Landfills and to the Ocean

BioCellection

(E) You use plastic first thing in the morning when you grab your toothbrush, you probably have your lunch in a plastic container, and you drink water from your plastic bottle during the day.

Many plastic products are single-use items that are designed to be thrown out quickly.

If this waste is not properly disposed of or managed, it is likely to end up in the ocean.

Today, only 9% of plastic packaging is recycled worldwide. The rest goes to landfills sometimes to incinerators, and unfortunately into our oceans, and as a result into the fishes that we are eating.

According to Ocean Conservancy: “From the tiniest plankton to the largest whales, plastics impact nearly 700 species in our ocean. Plastic has been found in more than 60% of all seabirds and in 100% of sea turtles species, that mistake plastic for food. And when animals ingest plastic, it can cause life-threatening problems, including reduced fitness, nutrient uptake, and feeding efficiency—all vital for survival. Every year, 8 million metric tons of plastics enter our ocean on top of the estimated 150 million metric tons that currently circulate our marine environments. Whether by errant plastic bags or plastic straws winding their way into gutters or large amounts of mismanaged plastic waste streaming from rapidly growing economies, that’s like dumping one New York City garbage truck full of plastic into the ocean every minute of every day for an entire year!”

After the closing of Re-Planet (read about it in my previous post: Re-Planet closed all its recycling sites in California), I discovered a small start-up BioCellection in Menlo Park embarked in a noble and ambitious mission: leaving no plastic molecule to waste.

BioCellection wants to change that by not only “creating innovative recycling processes for post-consumer waste plastics that no one else can recycle” but also “by converting them into virgin quality building blocks for sustainable supply chains.” 

Founded by two young biologists Miranda Wang and Jenny Yao, the start-up is beginning to work with recycling centers such as GreenWaste for the City of San Jose:

 

 

According to its Web site, BioCellection’s technical innovation:

is developed for polyethylene, which is over a third of all plastics produced globally and is currently focusing on LDPE and HDPE flexible plastics in particular used in grocery bags, bubble wraps, trash bags, retail packaging, food wraps…

To break plastic polymer chains, we must cleave stable carbon-carbon bonds. Through hundreds of experiments, we’ve identified a combination of reaction conditions that enables the polymer to be broken into lower molecular weight species with oxygenated terminals, forming valuable organic acid compounds that can be harvested, purified, and used to make products we love.

Products created from our process include succinic acid, glutaric acid, adipic acid, pimelic acid, suberic acid, and azelaic acid. These are the first chemical intermediates made from post-consumer waste! Today’s intermediates are produced using petroleum, and they’re essential in the production of performance materials, solvents, coatings, and more. Our innovation unlocks the potential of using plastic waste to replace fossil fuel as a resource for sustainable supply chains.”

See for more BioCellection’s partnership with the City of San Jose and GreenWaste:

 

 

We are wishing all the best to Mirranda and Jenny, and cannot wait to see the accomplishments of BioCellection.

Note that BioCellection is a social start-up and accepts donations.

In the meantime, please urgently:

  • Reduce your consumption of plastic
  • Participate to clean our oceans from plastic if you can
  • Participate to protect our ecosystems
  • Oppose to offshore drilling, and any initiative that is a risk for our oceans
  • Support the Ocean CleanUp, another social start-up which is involved in cleaning our oceans from plastic, and accept donations

Reference: A Silicon Valley Insider, Cleaning the Oceans from Plastic

Note: The picture above is Miranda Wang and Jenny Yao in their lab.

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