Bioplastics — The Real Deal Or a Scam? It Depends On Priorities

The Danish startup POND has found a way to replace traditional resin in different materials with biodegradable resin. They are at least 95 % biobased and fully degradable in nature. They are suitable to bind all natural fibers such as flax, hemp, pineapple, palm leaves, and cotton resulting in making fully biodegradable products.

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The potential is mind blowing. As an example a whopping 100,000 tons of non-biodegradable resin is used daily in the particleboard industry worldwide.

When I browsed through the POND website searching for examples I came across a post that explained the fuzzy concept of “Bioplastics” which inspired the title of this post, but we will get back to that in a minute.

Getting the priorities straight

ThomasbpA startup with an invention that could potentially change the world is a fragile thing, and this is why the people at POND are committed to a certain priority of the development of the company. In CEO and co-founder Thomas Brorsen Pedersen own words:

“Planet. People. Profit. In that order.”

Thomas recognizes the staggering potential of their products, and is afraid ownership will end up in the hands of corporations with the sole priority of profit. This leaves Thomas and his colleagues fighting an unusually hard fight to get the business model right.

The problem with non-biodegradable plastic pollution has reached a scale that threatens all life on the planet. Thus the planet must come first. Getting rid of the pollution will naturally benefit people, and any profit made in the progress must be reinvested to speed up the very same progress. The only ethical acceptable outcome is a livable planet:

We refer to ourselves as Ponders because we strongly believe in the company culture that we are building around the concept of the pond – where everything has a natural order, in part of a symbiosis. To be a Ponder means to care about the planet, its people and to have a purpose in life.

And how will they accomplish this? They have a clear vision:

By harvesting materials from nature’s own supplies, we then use advanced technology to turn these materials into strong and durable biocomposites which can be fully biodegraded and composted.

Simple. And very challenging. One thing is to get it right in the lab, which they already did — the products are the real deal. Another is to scale things up to what is necessary — a completely insane effort is needed. The company seriously seek production capacity abroad, not because Denmark is bad place for business, but because it is geographically too small…


To understand one of our planet’s biggest problems, one must understand plastics. The following is an excerpt from the POND website:

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Plastic pollution is one of this century’s major issues impacting the environmental health of our planet. Plastic has become a human necessity. It is literally found anywhere we go. It piles up in the city streets; it drifts around in large trash vortexes in our oceans; it is a floating minefield for seabirds and marine life.

According to UN Environmental Programme, UNEP, a staggering 6.5 million tonnes of plastic are being dumped alone in our oceans each year.

Bioplastic is a specific type of plastic derived from renewable biobased resources. The most common definition used when describing bioplastic arrives from the European Bioplastic Association. Here bioplastic is defined as being biobased or biodegradable. It can also be a combination of both as long as it is not non-biobased and non-biodegradable at the same time.

And this is where the problem arises.

Since the world of bioplastics has expanded rapidly though the last decades, so have the materials that can be classified as bioplastic.

With the definition being so broad and far reaching, it is basically up to the companies themselves to define how they portray bioplastic and to some extend what it contains.

In order to unfold this definition further, it is important to state that bioplastic can be non-biodegradable. Bioplastic can contain 0% biobased materials. It is also possible that bioplastic features 100 % fossil based sources.

Read the rest of the post at POND news.

Conquer the market

There is really only one thing POND can do, and probably has to do in one swift move: Upscale production to unimaginable proportions and supply their resin products at a competitive price. In other words: They need a ton of money, now.

The irony is that they get a lot of attention, but mostly from traditional capital ventures. The key is to make the perfect deal — with the right stakeholders — for the sake of the planet.

Fingers crossed.


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