Plastic pollution is a major concern for many in Canada and around the world, including students and researchers at the University of British Columbia, where budding ventures are hustling hard on creative solutions to local and global issues.
One of these ventures is Bioform Technologies. The UBC startup is working on bringing a completely compostable bioplastic to the market.
“We use the world’s most regenerative materials to create products that sustainably eliminate plastic waste without the green premium,” explains Dr. Jordan MacKenzie, cofounder and CEO of the company.
Bioform turns kelp and wood fibre, both of which are plentiful in BC, into thin yet durable bioplastic films. These films can then be used for applications like agricultural mulch film, to regulate soil moisture and protect crops, or rigid packaging products.
“Most plastic mulch is made from polyethylene because it’s cheap and durable, but PE can stay in the soil for decades and cause significant environmental contamination,” says MacKenzie, who holds a PhD in fluid mechanics. “As well, food packaging waste is a long-standing problem—tonnes of beverage lids end up in the landfill because they’re almost impossible to recycle.”
MacKenzie developed the technology during his time as a research associate at UBC’s department of chemical and biological engineering with professor Dr. Mark Martinez, Bioform’s other cofounder.
“Our technology is quite flexible and we are currently developing biodegradable bioplastic tubing for use in the hospital setting,” said Martinez.
He says the technology was originally inspired by the spinning of strong, stiff silk strands that form spiderwebs. Now Bioform is ready to raise capital for the next stage.
Since 2013, entrepreneurship@UBC has mobilized entrepreneurship, helping the UBC community translate innovation into tangible impact through the creation of transformative ventures.