EggPlant - Not Wasting Life

EggPlant - Not Wasting Life: EggPlant reuses wasterwater to produce bioplastic through 0waste process

Polignano a mare (BA), 70044, via Don Minzoni 27, ItalyItaly
Year Founded:
2013
Organization type: 
for profit
Project Stage:
Start-Up
Budget: 
$50,000 - $100,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

EggPlant reuses wastewater to produce high-performance bioplastics, 100% bio-based and biodegradable, through a 0-waste process, thanks to its proprietary technology, inspired by blue economy and biomimicry principles to eliminate the concept of waste and traditional plastic pollution.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if you could make a bio-degradable plastic for everyday use from waste, keeping you habits and tech life exactly the same, but without polluting anymore?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

EggPlant faces the wastewater disposal problem and the pollution deriving from petroleum-based plastics. Wastewater as well as traditional plastics represent today one of the biggest sources of pollution of the entire planet. Current on-stream bioplastic is mainly produced starting from edible resources; this implies an increase of food cost and a damage on poor populations and is not sustainable for economy, environment and society.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

EggPlant reuses wastewater as raw material to manufacture PHA bioplastic, a completely bio-derived and biodegradable plastic. How? EggPlant developed a proprietary technology, based on two steps: a high-tech membrane filtration of wastewater for the complete recovery of valuable components (sugars and proteins) and purified water, and a bacterial production of PHA bioplastic from the output of the first step. PHA bioplastic, naturally made by bacteria, is therefore completely bio-degradable and can replace traditional polluting and petroleum-based plastic. The technology allows a sustainable model for economy, reducing current costs, environment and society, eliminating waste and fossil resources without competing with the food value chain.

Awards

2015 Echoing Green Climate Fellowship; 2015 Best Bioeconomy business idea at GSVC (Italian Chapter); 2015 Italian Sustainable Development (Ecomondo); 2014 Social Disruptor Award (GIC); 2013 Best Italian Social Business (Make a Change)
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

EggPlant solves the wastewater disposal problem and the pollution coming from traditional hydrocarbons based plastic, by reusing wastewater as raw material to make bioplastic. Besides EggPlant provides a solution to traditional bioplastic production, mainly based on the adoption of food related raw materials. Thanks to its scalable technology and so to the possibility to adopt every kind of agrifood wastewater, EggPlant will spread its impact worldwide by adopting local waste and by enhancing local economies. To date EggPlant has proved its concept in Italy by adopting a local waste, olive mill wastewater, but it has already gained interest to apply its solution in other countries with related waste (e.g. Palm Oil Mill Effluent in Malaysia)

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

Several LCA analysis have already demonstrated the positive result for bio based polymers (PLA and PHA) manufactured from natural and renewable resources and by-products (e.g. corn straw, sugar cane bagasse, crops, etc.) with an average saving potential in the production of 2-4 tons of CO2 equivalents per ton of plastics (compared with traditional PET, PP, etc). Moreover, first calculations for a preliminary LCA analysis based on EggPlant proprietary technology, suggest that the overall carbon footprint of PHA produced by wastewater is even lower (< 20%, i.e. < -1 ton of CO2 eq per ton of plastic), thanks to the use of waste as raw material. This is the only reliable approach for a truly “cradle to cradle” bioplastic production toward a negative CO2 emission industrial biomimicry-based process. That’s how we dream to impact our planet and climate, acting like nature does.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

EggPlant technology will use any kind of organic waste and wastewater to produce high tech bioplastic worldwide. Since wastewater is everywhere (different streams based on specific geographic areas, e.g. olive oil mill wastewater in Mediterranean area, palm oil in Malaysia) and since plastic is globally adopted in daily life, EggPlant aims to change the paradigm of waste and conventional plastic at scale. In 5 years from now EggPlant expects a fast technological, geographical and financial scale-up: wastewater streams increase (10-15 types), EU and US penetration, 10% bioplastic market share
Sustainability

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

EggPlant economic and financial sustainability will be guaranteed by direct sales of bioplastic and licensing revenues (2 patents pending, 1 in progress). To reach the fully financially sustainable scale EggPlant is raising money combining funding from private and corporate investors and public grants. At scale the economic sustainability will leverage on revenues coming from the wastewater disposal, thus using a raw material with negative costs.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Today bioplastic is produced by biggest players (Novamont, Meredian, Metabolix) from local edible agricultural resources with an increase of food cost, consequent damage on poor populations and intensive use of soils. Moreover the cost of raw material implies high price for bioplastics. Few emerging companies are starting to make bioplastics from 0-cost waste (FullBioCycle, MangoMaterials, Bio‐On) still localized. EggPlant takes advantage from wastewater disposal revenue and worldwide availability to offer a clean solution with unique competitive advantage of cost effectiveness and scalability
Team

Founding Story

The weaknesses of our current development model, the genius of nature and the progress of R&D have always stunned us. This led us to work for a more sustainable world through a social business inspired by nature and focused on science & tech. Our belief in persons and so in education and knowledge as primary keys for change, pushed us in researching a big environmental and social problem, waste. The discovery of biomimicry and blue economy theories let us to close the loop and launch in 2013 EggPlant. By combining our team profiles and taking inspiration from nature we want to reverse the paradigm of waste and make it a wonderful resource to ensure a sustainable development so a right world

Team

Team Carofiglio Vito Emanuele - CPO, Molecular Biology PhD , DHITECH fellow 2015, 5+ years natural products and bio-materials, F-time Centrone Domenico - CEO, Industrial Engineering PhD, Echoing Green Climate Fellow 2015, former co-founder at CicerOOs, 7+ years biz dev. F-time Sannino Alessandro - COO, Prof. University of Salento, Founder Gelesis Inc. (IPO April 2015), Serial Entrepreneur, F-time Stufano Paolo - CTO, Green Chemistry PhD, Echoing Green Climate and Fulbright BEST Fellow 2015, 5+ years waste valorization, F-time Roberta Romano - Technical Collaborator, Biotechnology MSc, 5+ year biotechnology, P-time Advisory Board David Miles - Former B2E and FCB CEO Leah Stern - Echoing Green Portfolio Manager Andrea Rapaccini - Make a change Director As shown above the management team is now perfectly combining backgrounds and expertise to bring EggPlant to the next level. In doing so we are currently pushing to expand our advisory board with highly experienced international professionals in the field of sustainability and bioplastics, while building a solid network and attracting interest on the unique solution proposed. As the EggPlant will grow we will soon expand the team in terms of operations and later on we will welcome on board in the management team top professional with track record in bio-economy industry who can share the vision and contribute to scale EggPlant to spread its impact.
Background
Please confirm how you heard about the Unilever Awards:

our network in social business and sustainability

Please confirm your role in the initiative (eg Founder/co-Founder) and your organisational title:

Co-founder, CPO

Which of the 8 UN Global Goals (Sustainable Development Goals) pre-selected for this competition does your solution relate most closely to? [select all that apply]

Clean Water and Sanitation, Responsible Consumption and Production, Climate Action.

Leadership and the Unilever Awards
Please provide examples of any previous entrepreneurial initiatives you have pioneered.

With a solid technical and R&D background in the field of sustainability and bio-economy the whole team has developed core business experience and shown a strong entrpreneurial attitude. Domenico, with a solid background in industrial management, before EggPlant founded a startup in the digital space after a Fulbright fellowship in Silicon Valley, Vito and Paolo extensively worked in tech transfer and startup creation thanks to a scholarship on "innovative technology entrepreneurship" (DHITECH), Alessandro has a noticeable track record with several startup co-founded and a great success case with Gelesis Inc. (IPO 2015)

Beyond your existing team, who else are you working with to achieve your objectives, eg partners, advisors, mentors?

Advisors as just stated above (David Miles - Former B2E and FCB CEO, Leah Stern - Echoing Green Portfolio Manager, Andrea Rapaccini - Make a change Director) and others met during these two years, 7 strategic partnerships with universities (Perugia and Salento in Italy), private companies (engineering and construction from Italy, bio-plastic manufacturers from Italy and US, waste management companies, from Italy and US), support from social business organizations (Make a Change-Italy, Echoing Green US).
A number of formal and informal mentors in the space of bio-economy met at international events (Bio-based material international conference in Germany-Koln; Bio-world, Canada, Montreal; Plast, Ecomondo, Italian Forum on Industrial Biotechnologies and others - Italy)

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