These Two Companies Figured out How to Turn Fruit Pits Into Plastic

Being able to turn food scraps into plastic can greatly reduce waste and harmful petroleum plastic products.

Feb 7, 2019
Special Collections: REDUCE REUSE RECYCLE

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Duygu Yilmaz, a scientist from Turkey and Scott Munguía, a chemical engineer from Mexico have one thing in common: they have both discovered methods to convert fruit pits into biodegradable plastic.

Yilmaz has founded Biolive, a company that takes discarded olive pits and converts it into bio-plastic; and Munguía has built up BioFase, which converts olive pits into biodegradable cutlery and straws.

While these entrepreneurs have come to similar conclusions, they came across their discoveries through two very different paths.

Duyha Yilmaz, a young female scientist in Turkey discovered the amazing potential of olive pits by chance- after watching her father's peculiar eating habits. She noticed him eating the pits of the olives in order to ease stomach pains. Yilmaz began researching olive pits to make sure that this would not affect her father's health, and accidentally discovered something that would change the course of her life and career. She found that the pits were not only fine for digestion but that they also have a similar chemical make-up as plastic.

This discovery led her to build Biolive, which generates biodegradable plastic. These bio-plastic products break down in one year, as opposed to regular plastic, which takes 450 years to break down entirely. Biolive products also have a significantly lower carbon footprint as compared to conventional plastic.

Scott Munguía, on the other hand, was a student when he made the incredible discovery that avocado pits can be turned into bio-plastic. Aware that conventional plastic was a massive issue, Munguia trialed many different organic materials in an attempt to discover the perfect biodegradable alternative.  After a year and a half of research, he found an effective method to obtain a polymer from avocado pits, which could be molded into different shapes.

In 2013, Munguía patented and founded BioFase, and since then built two plants that create biodegradable cutlery and straws. The company sells the finished products primarily to major food chains such as P.F. Chang's China Bistro and Chili's Grill & Bar.

BioFase produces 130 tons of biodegradable plastic products in its Morelia plant every month and in November 2018, the company opened a plant with a capacity of 700 tons a month.

Yilmaz and Munguía are part of a massive movement of entrepreneurs who are developing creative solutions to reduce plastic pollution. Their companies represent incredible progress in a changing economy, where biodegradable, recycled, and low-impact products will lead the way to a cleaner and more sustainable future.

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HILLA BENZAKEN, CONTRIBUTOR
Hilla Benzaken is a dedicated optimist. Her happy place involves cooking, acting, gardening, and fighting for social justice. She writes about all things sustainability, innovation, and DIY.

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