The technology that Biogone employs allows a plastic to biodegrade way, produce energy to displace coal, can be fully recycled and does not require any special disposal methods.
This additive had some very desirable properties. The first step however was to trial the additive to check if it did run in the manufacturer’s machines. Samples were obtained and supplied to different product manufacturers to trial making their products with the additive in it. They all reported they noted a slight change in how the plastic ran in the machines but overall, it ran well and did not change the quality of their product.
In 2012 Ross and John started a company Fieldtech Solutions supplying equipment to the contaminated land industry. One of the goals in this company was to replace all the conventional single use plastic being used in this industry with a landfill-biodegradable version of it. Plus, to further their sustainability, they would have their more long-life products out of recycled plastic resin. Australian, when possible and then international manufacturers were found to make an array of products for their company. All these products were not only Australian firsts but were world firsts. When they were announced they caused considerable discussion in the industry. Why hadn’t this been done before? How did this work? Were they too expensive? These are common questions they got asked over and over. Some companies immediately made the switch to become more responsible with their operations. There were some however who decided for their own internal reasons to continue to make all the same plastic waste they had always made.
As the company grew, Ross and John soon realised to be fully responsible they had to consider the packing materials they were using to ship their products out to customers. They contacted various companies making these items and first inquired if they would be interested making some of their products with the additive. A lot of questions and answers were sent back and forth. In the end some said no as they said they didn’t want to risk their machines on something new. Some however did say yes, they would do some trials. Trials were performed and production orders placed soon thereafter.
Understanding that every business in Australia that sells products would have the same issues as Fieldtech Solutions had, John and Ross then decided to take the idea bigger. They would not only use the packing in Fieldtech but would form another entity called Biogone and market the range of packing materials across Australia. These products were also the first of their kind in the world. Product like packing tape that scarcely anyone gives a second though to as being plastic problem, but in reality, is just another piece of polypropylene film that would last 100’s of years. Finding a manufacturer to run a trial with the additive was a considerable problem and took over 2 years. However, one supplier was willing to perform the trial which went well. They then produced the world’s first landfill biodegradable for Biogone. Similar product followed along, stretch wrap, pallet caps, packing envelopes, each one a first.
As a new product was made it was added to the Biogone website and listed for sale. Once the packing range of products reached a comprehensive level, the 2 entrepreneurs looked around at what other industries were using a lot of single use plastic with general consumers as the customers. The food industry was a prominent industry to consider. They started off small with a range of zip lock bags, then expanded to cling films, disposable and reusable gloves, bin liners and produce bags. By this time, about 2017, there were starting to appear on the market some landfill-biodegradable products from other companies sch as zip lock bags. A USA company had just released a line of disposable gloves and asked Biogone to represent them for some of their market. The cling films and produce bags were still world firsts landfill-biodegradable versions, however.
Still other markets became apparent. The dog waste bag industry was large with numerous manufacturers competing for sales. Some had biodegradable claims on them without any justification as to how they would biodegrade. John and Ross decided to produce a line of dog bags but with all the information on them to let the users know what the bags were and how and where to dispose of them. This seemed to be garnered some respect from users as sales grew fast.
All through the last ten years, the world’s media have focused more and more on the problems with plastic waste. It gets into the oceans, take a dire toll on marine life, pollutes the lands of many third world countries to devastating levels, impacts infrastructure causing flooding, and disease. This has led to consumers being more aware of their plastic usage and looking for better solutions. Ross and John were fortunate to have started and promoting Biogone throughout most of this to offer consumers more responsible solutions. There is no perfect plastic solution however other than refuse. To add to their product material range, they started having some of their products made from Home Compostable plastics. This material has gained more prominence in the last five or so years with consumers wanting to get away from fossil fuel-based plastics. In addition, there is an Australian standard for it which gives consumes a lot of confidence they are getting the right material. To verify that a home compostable plastic product would biodegrade in a landfill, where a consumer is likely to dispose of it, a biodegradation test was performed by a laboratory with very positive results.
The company Biogone they started 13 years ago based on a footnote in a journal article, now has 11 staff and has developed a large suite of responsible plastic products encompassing both the landfill-biodegradable range and a similar range of home compostable products. All of which will biodegrade when disposed on in the typical manner these products are disposed of. Their biogas from the decomposition can be used to generate electricity. Some of which are recyclable should we get to a more circular economy in the years to come.
Visit Biogone at stand i222 at Auspack 2022 to find out more.