Biofase, a startup based in Michoacan, Mexico, uses discarded avocado pits to produce biodegradable cutlery and straws.
Scott Munguía is all about ethics. The biochemical engineer who studied at the Mexican Institute for Technology and Advanced Studies in Monterrey (ITESM), a product must be sustainable and return some of the profits to society. Therefore, Munguía wants to put an end to the waste of food items for the production of bioplastics. Instead of corn, which is one of the staple foods in his home country of Mexico, he wants to use his company Biofase to produce biopolymers from avocado seeds.
Munguía founded Biofase 2013. The startup transforms the structurally-dense avocado cores into bioplastics, which are then turned into disposable straws or cutlery. All products that the company produces from the cores are completely biodegradable within 240 days.
Mexico is the market leader in avocado cultivation and harvests more than one million tons annually. The fruit is the main ingredient of guacamole. In the industrial production of the delicious dish, 4700 tons of avocado seeds are left over annually. So far, they end up in the garbage. Food companies have to pay for their disposal. Biofase collects the waste for free.
The raw material is sold to companies that produce everything from plastic bags to larger plastic parts. According to Munguía, the avocado seeds produced in Mexico could cover the country’s need for bioplastics ten fold.
Still, the production of the resin is too expensive to conquer wider markets. It costs twice as much as the plastic production from crude oil. But Munguía is confident: “We believe we can approach the price of conventional plastics.”
Biofase is the only biopolymer supplier in its native Mexico, according to the company’s website. It delivers its biodegradable products to more than 11 countries in Latin America. Several chain restaurants order their cutlery and straws. Customers include Chili’s Grill & Bar, Fiesta Americana and P.F. Chang’s China Bistro.