During the past few decades, we have used more of the earth's resources than in all of human history. We consume close to 1,000 billion plastic bags every year. Many of these bags are never taken care of but ends up in our nature. The company Gaia Biomaterials AB wants to change this.
Gaia Biomaterials AB is cleantech company in Skåne that is now aiming to become a world leader in biomaterials. Company founder Åke Rosén started his first biomaterials company in 1974 and has since then run several companies, but is now focusing fully on Gaia.
- Our big investment is a completely biodegradable bag in biomaterials, says Åke. There are different types of biomaterials, some are not biodegradable at all, but Gaia's new bag will not leave any fragments at all when it breaks down.
Bio-based plastics means that the material is totally or partially derived from biomass. Bioplastics are made primarily of starches such as corn, sugar cane and wheat. A benefit from a climate point of using biomaterials instead of oil-based fossil material is that it reduces carbon dioxide emissions, and conserving the earth's resources.
Bioplastics are already playing an important role in the short-lived products packaging, but gradually more long-lasting products are developed. Some examples are the parts of the computer keyboard, cell phone casings and components in the motor industry.
- The bio-bags that existed before has been of varied quality, until now, says Åke. But we have been very careful to test our bags so that they'll keep for the end consumer's needs.
The price for the end consumer will be slightly higher than ordinary plastic bags, but Åke Rosén believes that the demand for biomaterials is greater than the concern about a possibly higher price.
- Organic products have increased in the shops. This goes for both food, drink and use for packaging, says Åke. People are actually prepared to pay a little more for organic goods.
When it comes to the world's plastic bag usage, this development is also heading towards the right direction. Some US states have already banned the usual plastic bags and bags based on biomaterials are a viable option. The European Union discussed a higher recycling fee on plastic and 80 % of all polythene bags should be replaced by biomaterials by the year 2019.
Gaia have an agreement with a European company established in Vietnam. The project means that Gaia will produce its new options for the production of plastic bags in a demo plant. The agreement was reached during a trip to Vietnam which was organized by the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth (Tillväxtverket) and Centec Hanoi, (Center for Environmental Technology Cooperation). According to Gaia, the project will be complemented by the development of a system so that the company can also produce biogas.