Biome’s Bioplastics division announces the successful completion of its three-month feasibility project to develop and test a new generation of biodegradable tree shelters to be manufactured from the Company’s bioplastics.
Tree shelters protect young trees and bushes from predation by animals. They are a well-proven and economic route to limiting losses in the first five years of a tree’s life. Traditionally made from oil-based and non-biodegradable plastics, the majority of such shelters are never collected and eventually litter the environment with microplastics.
In the UK, around 45 million trees are planted each year, most of those using non-biodegradable tree shelters for protection, with an estimated 2,500 tons of persistent plastics ending up annually in the natural environment after use. Plans to significantly increase tree planting as part of the UK’s drive to mitigate climate change will exacerbate these problems.
The initial feasibility project has allowed the Company to explore the performance of a variety of bioplastic materials in this application and culminated in the manufacture of prototypes at Biome’s customer’s premises.
The polymers that Biome are using in this project are bio-based and biodegradable. Some are novel and represent some of the results of over six years and £6.5 million of directed investment in research collaboration between Biome and a number of the UK’s leading universities. The development of biodegradable tree shelters is the first potential commercial application arising from this collaborative group’s endeavours. The polymers used in this particular project are partly based on furandicarboxylic acid (FDCA) monomeric building blocks. More information regarding the processes for the formation of FDCA can be found on the Company’s website.
This feasibility project was supported by a funding contract between Biome and the UK Government’s agency, Innovate UK, as part of the Sustainable Innovation Fund (SBRI Phase 1). The Company has tendered for a further contract under SBRI Phase 2 with a view to starting large-scale field trials of novel biodegradable tree shelters during 2021.
To provide investors with more details on the scientific approach to this project and its future path to prospective commercialisation, the Company has commissioned a short explanatory video that can be viewed below:
Biome’s Bioplastics division (www.biomebioplastics.com) announces the start of a project to develop and test a new generation of biodegradable tree shelters made from the Company’s bioplastics. The project has been awarded funding of £58,843 from the Government-backed Innovate UK agency.
Tree shelters are used to protect young trees and bushes from predation by animals. They are a well-proven and economic route to limiting losses in the first 5-7 years of a tree’s life. Traditionally made from oil-based and non-biodegradable plastics, it is believed that the majority of such shelters are never collected at the end of their life and litter the landscape with large and small plastic pieces. Plans to significantly increase tree planting as part of the UK’s push to net zero emissions will exacerbate these problems.
The objective of this feasibility project is to develop and manufacture prototypes of a novel bio-based, biodegradable tree shelter. These shelters will be designed to provide protection to growing trees, not hinder growth as trees reach maturity and biodegrade if not collected. The prototypes will initially be subjected to laboratory testing in accelerated ageing conditions.
This three-month project is being undertaken in conjunction with Suregreen, a leading manufacturer of tree shelters. Suregreen’s team has extensive experience in the manufacture and sales of tree shelters and will involve its forestry customers in product assessment.
The project will draw on advice from Dr Robert Elias of the Biocomposites team at the University of Bangor. Dr Elias has experience in forest industries and particular expertise in bio-based polymers and natural anti-bacterial additives.
The project is funded by Innovate UK’s Sustainable Innovation Fund (SBRI Phase 1) that seeks, following COVID-19, to demonstrate the impact and potential of a clean growth led recovery and transition to net zero greenhouse gas emissions.
Should this initial feasibility project prove successful, the Company may apply for further funding from SBRI Phase 2 in early 2021. It is envisaged that subsequent funding would be used to conduct extensive field trials.
Paul Mines, Biome Technologies’ Chief Executive commented:
“This project is an exciting step towards supporting tree planting in a sustainable manner. Some 15 million tree shelters are already used in the UK each year and we are delighted to help Suregreen re-invent a product for this sector.”
John Warner, Suregreen’s Managing Director commented:
“We are really excited to be working with an industry-leading company such as Biome Technologies to explore practical ways of utilising the latest bioplastic materials for the benefit of the environment, the climate and the world. We know what essential features and attributes a tree shelter should have through the development of our existing Vigilis range and look forward to applying that knowledge to this new type of tree shelter which will facilitate the huge tree planting programs that our future demands.”
Innovate UK Executive Chair Dr Ian Campbell said:
“In these difficult times we have seen the best of British business innovation. The pandemic is not just a health emergency but one that impacts society and the economy. Biome Technologies’ innovative biodegradable tree shelter project, along with every initiative Innovate UK has supported through this fund, is an important step forward in driving sustainable economic development. Each one is also helping to realise the ambitions of hard-working people.”
Biome has been identified as one of the London Stock Exchange Group’s ‘1000 Companies to Inspire Britain’ for 2020. The report recognises the UK’s fastest-growing and most dynamic small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs), highlighting the regional and sector diversity of the UK’s SMEs and the entrepreneurial spirit shown by these companies.
Paul Mines, CEO of Biome Technologies plc, commented: “Being included in London Stock Exchange Group’s ‘1000 Companies to Inspire Britain’ 2020 report is further evidence and recognition of our fast growth. We’re leading the way in developing bio-based and compostable materials to address the global plastics crisis. We already have a strong portfolio of high-performance products available internationally. Meanwhile, our emerging technology pipeline continues to grow thanks to the hard-work and dedication of our industrial biotechnology experts.”
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