The Expanded Polystyrene Foam (EPS), a type of plastic, is widely used in the packaging industry. This non-biodegradable material has short usage cycles and a very low recycling rate, which makes it one of the most pervasive pollutants on Earth, especially in oceans. Bulgarian startup Biomyc, a finalist of this year’s clim@ competition for startups organized by the Green for Growth Fund (GGF), is offering a solution.
Biomyc is a biotech startup that uses untapped organic waste to create sustainable products and bring them to market. It uses agricultural waste derived from mushroom mycelium to create a composite material out of which it currently produces two prototypes:
- a sustainable packaging solution that looks like Styrofoam but is entirely biodegradable; and
- furniture fiberboards that contain 70% less wood and no formaldehyde-based adhesives.
There is a big discrepancy between how mankind manufactures and consumes. The link to the origin of materials and products is often unknown. The trend for circularity and sustainability is rising. Eco-friendly materials are by definition overpriced; low-cost materials are usually unsustainable and produced in far-off countries. Biomyc is working on local material sourcing and production, short delivery chains, and product circularity, while preparing its customers to be in line with upcoming regulations and compliance costs regarding the use of unsustainable materials.
Biomyc was looking for a beachhead market that would have allowed it quick penetration and high visibility, and found a strong demand for protective packaging for premium and organic products – for wineries, premium wine retailers, organic cosmetics manufacturers. This type of packaging is protecting produce during transport, providing the manufacturers with a fantastic marketing boost and strengthening their sustainability efforts.
Biomyc’s solution – compostable shipping containers
Biomyc develops compostable shipping containers for a variety of uses. The startup is working on sustainably sourcing its feedstocks from locally available raw resources, while aiming at getting its packaging solutions to perform as well as or better than petroleum-derived packaging (like EPS Foams for example). In addition, Biomyc harnesses biological processes to produce complex shapes without thermoforming synthetic resins/glues.
The startup is developing a truly circular packaging solution, adopting a way of design thought that looks for energy efficiency, harnessing natural processes, and economic profitability for small local producers. Based on its customer traction and R&D so far, Biomyc is confident that its packaging solutions will be price competitive with petrol/styrofoam packaging in the foreseeable future.
Biomyc has received support from the Climate KIC, part of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology, Cleantech Bulgaria – a leading greentech consultancy, and Zagorka, a subsidiary of Heineken Group.
Preventing one of the most pervasive pollutants on Earth
The production of Expanded Polystyrene Foam is energy intensive, creating large amounts of greenhouse gases. It is essentially non-biodegradable, taking hundreds, perhaps thousands of years to decompose. EPS Foam is lightweight, it floats and when it breaks apart, the small polystyrene components can be eaten by animals which can cause choking or intestinal blockage. Marine life easily mistakes polystyrene for food.
Plastics accounts for 90% of floating marine debris. A 2015 McKinsey report estimates there are over 150 million tonnes of plastic in the seas, coming from collected plastic waste subsequently leaking into the ocean. The 2016 Ellen MacArthur Foundation report estimates that without significant action, there may be more plastic than fish (by weight) in oceans by 2050.
EPS Foam is usually not recycled due to its light weight and the high economic cost of transporting and degreasing the petroleum-based material.
Globally, 14 million metric tonnes of polystyrene is produced each year, making it one of the most pervasive pollutants on Earth.
Biomyc is developing fossil fuel free, compostable packaging solutions as direct drop-in replacements for EPS and similar synthetic foams. By utilizing Biomyc Packaging, packaging shifts from waste to nutrients, whether in soil or water.
Innovation = Invention x Commercialization
Biomyc works hard to become a leading supplier of innovative, sustainable solutions. They support Bill Aulet`s definition: “Innovation = Invention x Commercialization”. Biomyc finds meaning in delivering practical, economically sound progress, in the form of sustainable solutions to acute customer pains. Its mission is to bring to market Sustainable & Affordable Products.
Members of the team are passionate about achieving progress and results through sustained action and discipline.
Atanas Enev, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Biomyc
We continue to strive for economically viable and environmentally friendly
Deyan Georgiev, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Biomyc
We feel very lucky to have been able to recruit outstanding professionals on our team.
Atanas Enev, Co-Founder and Managing Partner, is a practicing architect and has over 5 years of experience in managing complex industrial-scale projects with diverse stakeholders, spread geographically, that require coordinating subcontractors and institutional partners. He is responsible for strategic planning and customer acquisition in the team.
Deyan Georgiev, Co-Founder and Managing Partner, has studied Business and Management at the University of Glasgow and subsequently acquired cross-cultural managerial experience, working with Japanese, German, and Bulgarian teams both domestically and abroad. His activities in the past have included recruiting, training, motivation and quality control of key personnel.
Professor Albert Krastanov is one of the leading experts in the field of Biotechnology in Bulgaria. He has over 30 years of experience and approximately 180 publications, many patents and books. He has worked on a number of large industrially oriented projects for large international corporations such as EADS, HUVEPHARMA and SELUR. Albert is the lead scientist in charge of technological development and testing.