Biodegradable plastic instead of petroleum-based plastic: FluidSolids

Plastic waste lines every street corner, pollutes entire stretches of land and penetrates as microplastics into the great depths of the sea. The problem: its durability. A PET bottle, for example, decomposes within 450 years, a fishing line even in 600 years (NZZ, 2018). This has not only ecological long-term consequences, but also health consequences for humans and animals as well as economic consequences for governments and corporations. A sustainable alternative is needed. FluidSolds offers a solution for this. Beat Karrer, the founder of FluidSolids, explains in this video how FluidSolids why biodegradable plastic can replace petroleum-based plastic in many applications.

Plastic waste as a remnant of plastic products and the costly disposal of waste materials are a worldwide problem. The inhabitants of Switzerland alone produce over 700 kg of waste per person every year. Only just under half of this is recycled or reused. FluidSolids addresses this problem with an innovative, home-compostable biocomposite made from residues of renewable raw materials. The aim is to use the technology developed to make a contribution to reducing global plastic pollution.

Which approach did FluidSolids choose?

For the production of the material FluidSolids uses fibres as well as natural binders and additives, which accumulate as waste or by-products in huge quantities in agriculture and industry. In addition, the company does not use food in the production of the products, so the material is not in competition with food production. At the end of their life cycle, products made from FluidSolids can either be recycled or disposed of in home compost. Depending on the recipe, the material can also end up in waste paper.

Business Sustainability Today - FluidSolids

The company’s business model is based on two pillars: the development of customer-specific material formulations and the manufacture of components from FluidSolids. On the one hand, we work very closely with large companies that produce large quantities of waste that cannot be recycled.

These companies often bear high costs for the disposal of waste and by-products. FluidSolids develops tailor-made material formulations for these companies in order to be able to convert disposal costs into added value. FluidSolids also helps companies to manufacture new or existing products with environmentally friendly materials by using parts made from biocomposites. In this way, sustainability strategies can be implemented and costs optimised at the same time.

What are the challenges?

Challenges exist in both business and corporate development. A solution for both cases is only possible with partners. In order to scale up the materials and products produced in the pilot plant to mass production, FluidSolids is working closely with companies from various industries. New approaches for certain product-specific tasks, such as optimizing water resistance, are also developed in partnership. There are long-standing, established cooperations with various colleges and universities in order to find new solutions and open up further areas of application for the material.

According to Beat Karrer, the most important factor in the company’s development is the rapidly growing team, which is committed to its work with a great deal of expertise, power and passion. As long as this is fulfilled, the company can concentrate fully on conquering the market and convincing more customers of the product.

What are the effects (impact)?

The technology helps to reduce global plastic pollution of land and water and has a minimal overall environmental impact. The materials produced by FluidSolids can be used for a wide range of products that were previously made from petroleum-based plastics. With the transition to sustainable biocomposites, companies can sustainably change their value chain and use waste materials as a resource. The product’s carbon footprint is also outstanding, as it produces 60-80% less carbon dioxide emissions during production than conventional bioplastics or petroleum-based plastics. The materials produced by FluidSolids are also non-toxic and emission-free.

What is FluidSolids’ vision?

“Waste as raw material” as a credo. FluidSolids AG’s vision is to establish the patented material on the market as a sustainable replacement for petroleum-based plastics without compromising on performance, sustainability and design. By using residues from renewable raw materials to produce an alternative to petroleum-based plastics, a contribution is being made to solving the global plastics problem.

How can the solution approach be multiplied and scaled?

FluidSolids makes it possible to replace a large number of product components previously manufactured from petroleum-based plastics. This enables companies of various sizes and from various industries to manufacture components in a more sustainable manner. The technology can be easily scaled up and integrated into existing production facilities at the customer’s site where the waste materials are generated. This also minimizes the transport effort and costs.

Like any material, biocomposites are not the right choice for every application. Of course, a compostable product is not 100% waterproof. This means that it is not suitable for outdoor use. However, FluidSolids has very advantageous mechanical properties compared to conventional plastic, emphasizes Beat Karrer. The material is, for example, even thinly formed still very stable. There are also hardly any limits to the source material. This is illustrated by an example from Beat Karrer: “If 10% of the coffee grounds produced annually in Germany were processed into FluidSolids, this amount of biocomposites could cover over 1% of the global demand for plastics!”