EggPlant

ORGANIZATION NAME:

LOCATION: Italy

SUMMARY: EggPlant aims to eliminate the concept of waste and the pollution from traditional plastics by reusing wastewater as raw material to get advanced high performance bioplastic and smart bioplastic-based solutions, thanks to its innovative proprietary technology, through a zero-waste process.

PROBLEM SPACE: "EggPlant reuses wastewater to make high performance bioplastics through a waste process, facing and solving two big environmental and social problems: the wastewater disposal and the pollution deriving from petroleum-based plastics.
Wastewater is a global huge problem for the environment (source of contamination and pollution), society (population health danger) and economy (disposal cost). Presently wastewaters are mainly treated to be disposed with high costs and environmental/social impacts, but they are not exploited as a resource.
Besides traditional plastics represent today one of the biggest source of pollution of the entire world also considering their LCA. Today 4M+ tons of plastics are floating in the Pacific Ocean, an island twice the size of Texas. In 2016 a report presented at the World Economic Forum warned: There will be more plastic than fish in the sea by 2050!

The current on-stream alternative to traditional plastics, i.e. bio-plastic, is mainly produced starting from edible sources (corn, sugar cane, etc.); this is neither economically sustainable nor ethically acceptable, due to the negative impact in the long term on food price and thus on poor populations. The need of rethinking the concept of waste itself as a resource cannot be neglected anymore."

SOLUTION: "EggPlant counts on a proprietary patent pending technology, based on two fundamental processes: a multi-step membrane filtration of wastewater for the complete recovery of valuable components and a bacterial production of polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs), i.e. the bioplastic, from the highly carbon-rich concentrate residues from the first step. In the first process the wastewater is filtered through consecutive micro, ultra -UF-, nano-filtration -NF- and reverse osmosis RO. The NF-concentrate contains high added value compounds (e.g. polyphenols) that can be readily commercialized. Moreover ultra-pure clean water is eventually recovered. The concentrates coming from UF and RO steps contains sugars and proteins, that are useful nutrients for selected bacteria which accumulate PHAs as humans accumulate fats. The PHAs produced are finally extracted and isolated in high purity, and can replace traditional petroleum-based plastics in manufacturing a variety of products.
EggPlant approach relies on feasible technologies which are for the first time integrated in a single new system, developed after 2 years of R&D with industrial and academic partners. The results obtained in EggPlant laboratories originated 2 patent applications already filed and 1 in progress. The holistic approach brought to an unprecedented technology which enables a new business model, allowing to use wastewater, which currently represent a cost, as raw material for bioplastic production, offering one truly economically and environmentally sustainable solution for two social, economic and environmental problems, with no waste in the end according to the concepts of biorefineries and closed cycles (ecosystems). Moreover, because of the ubiquitous presence of agro-food wastewater on the globe, this flexible technology, moving from local communities, can create a new business opportunity in the existing agro-food industry value chain that can be scaled and replicated at a global level, effectively closing the loop and providing to waste a new, green and valuable life."

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