#18 Innovative Business Case: Bio-On (IT)
- Fully bio-based and 100% biodegradable PHA bioplastics
- Natural and environmentally-friendly production process: non-GMO, organic solvents free, low energy consumption
- New value creation for agricultural by-products and waste
- Booster for the bioeconomy that creates new direct and indirect skilled job opportunities
Bio-On is a great example of how smart companies can have an impact that goes even beyond rural areas. This Italian company developed a way to turn agricultural residues into 100% bio-based plastics, which take only 40 days to safely biodegrade in soil and water.
How do they do this? Their researchers feed non-pathogenic and non-genetically modified bacteria with carbon sources coming from different agro-industrial sectors, such as sugar beets, sugar canes, potatoes, dates, used cooking oil, crude glycerol, fats, dairy wastes and others. During a fermentation process the micro-organisms metabolise these molecules producing biopolymers (PHAs) as a reserve of energy within the bacteria cell. At the end of fermentation, the PHA is recovered from the cells through a very ‘green’ process without using any chemical organic solvents.
The outstanding flexibility of PHAs allows for their use in countless applications: from cosmetics to automotive, from biomedical to toys, from packaging to furniture. Just to mention a few, Bio-On developed microscopic particles to substitute the microplastics polluting our water that is used in cosmetics, 3-D printers, fragrances, feed and many other products. So far the company succeeded in substituting 100 different kinds of plastics and the number is still growing.
Besides, this kind of bioplastics is biocompatible, meaning the company designed nanomedicines that can end up inside the human body without side effects. But the cherry on the cake is the development of a technology that uses PHAs powder to clean oil spill in the sea within 20 days by activating bacteria naturally present in the water.
Bio-on is an Intellectual Property Company that licenses out its technology for the production of ultragreen PHA biopolymers to third parties that wish to enter into the bioeconomy. Thanks to their extraordinary innovations, since 2018 Bio-On scaled up its production process from a former rabbit farm used as a pilot plant in 2010 to the most technically advanced biorefinery in the world located in Emilia Romagna, Northern Italy. And it looks like their story is still unfolding…