Sustainability is now a priority on most peoples' lists. As climate concerns continue to mount, more and more people are seeking out sustainable alternatives to their everyday items. From cutlery to straws, the plastic versions just aren't cutting it anymore; And it's this public opinion that sparked the creativity behind Biofase's ground-breaking research for sustainable single-use products using the avocado pit.
When we think of sustainability, single-use items hardly come to mind. Single-use plastics account for roughly 50% of all plastics used, which is why consumers are encouraged to use reusable containers and materials. But, for those situations that require single-use cutlery and straws, Biofase provides a sustainable alternative using the all-natural ingredient of the avocado pit.
Avocado Pits for Sustainable Packaging
Biofase is a Mexican-based company that specializes in making everyday commodities sustainable. Led by Scott Manguia, Biofase offers straws and cutlery made from completely renewable and sustainable sources, containing 70% biomass content.
Biofase claims that their products have a significantly smaller carbon footprint than any other competing products. The typical plastic cutlery and straws are a bi-product of heavy oil usage, which takes a toll on the health of the environment. However, Biofase harnesses the power of the avocado tree for their straws and cutlery. During its growth, the avocado tree actually absorbs CO2 to form its tissues. So as the avocados are maturing, CO2 is already being absorbed - A process that any other plastic manufacturing process can't offer.
The avocado tree absorbs CO2 to form its tissues, making the entire process climate-friendly
While there are already many different biodegradable product materials on the market, the majority of them are made from corn. After researching in the lab, Manguia discovered that the bipolymer in a single avocado pit is remarkably similar to that of corn. And since Mexico produces roughly half of the world's avocados, there's not a shortage of avocado pit supply; They just need to be put to good use.
Generally speaking, an avocado pit has little to no use. Typically, the pits end up burned or buried as waste, because most of the avocados are smashed up and made into guacamole in Mexico, where the 300,000 tons of useless pits remain. An increasing number of companies in Mexico are actually paying to dispose of the avocado pits, making it the perfect opportunity to expand upon Biofase's product line.
For now, the obstacle that Biofase has to deal with isn't convincing businesses to go green, but is the price point. Sustainable products such as Biofase's cutlery and straws don't come cheap, with the products coming in at 15% higher than traditional petroleum-based plastics. Currently, Biofase is still considered a start-up, which explains the steep price point. But, according to a recent article, the company plans to expand their production 13 times, which significantly reduce the wholesale price.
Our Single-Use Plastics Epidemic
There are tons of factors that are negatively impacting our environment. From water waste to improper recycling, our everyday actions are having catastrophic effects on the environment. Although it may not seem significant, you may want to reconsider before taking that plastic straw with your iced coffee. It all adds up, making single-use plastics a serious threat to our environmental health.
Single-use plastics are defined as plastics that are used only once before they are thrown out. Also known as disposable plastics, these items are a mainstream commodity used all across the world. The widespread use and availability of these plastic products accounts for 32% of the 78 million tons of plastic packaging that ends up in the ocean.
Single-use plastics negatively impact human and marine life alike
The extent of the damage done by plastics in our oceans is far worse than just aesthetic. All of the straws, plastic cartons, and 6-pack rings that end up in the ocean pose a serious threat to marine life and birds. The marine plastic pollution is reported to affect over 267 species worldwide, including 43% of all marine mammal species.
Aside from marine life, single-use plastic waste directly affects human health as well. At each stage of plastic lifecycle, there are negative health effects on the human body. The extraction of fossil fuels to make the plastic itself requires the use of numerous toxic chemicals that can leach into the water and contaminate our drinking sources. Once the materials are sourced, the refining and production of the plastics releases carcinogenic and highly toxic substances into the air, causing serious respiratory and nervous system concerns. Then, when the plastic is finally ready to be used for packaging, it can leach into whatever item is within it, food included.
The real concerns about plastic and human health come from a considerably grey area of research. Plastics in general have been given the green light to be used in the majority of our everyday commodities, but the long-term effects are still relatively unknown. A recent report by the Center for International Environmental Law claims that a gap in knowledge and uncertainties regarding plastic usage affects the ability of policymakers and consumers to make well-informed decisions regarding plastic usage.
On a daily basis, almost everyone comes in contact with plastic one way or another. Whether it's your morning coffee cup's to-go lid, plastic utensils, or even just your shampoo bottle, plastic is everywhere. We've become so accustomed to plastic packaging that to eliminate it would be a difficult (if not impossible) undertaking. But with climate change concerns mounting, it may be time to take a look at our own plastic usage and identify where we can make some adjustments. After all, plastics don't seem to be going away anytime soon, so every measure we take to reduce plastic usage is a step in the right direction.