We’ve previously written about the role that 3D printing can play in the future of food, but could additive manufacturing also have a part to play in disposing of food waste? Indeed it can, claim the brains behind a startup called Genecis, made up of graduates from Canada’s University of Toronto Scarborough. With this ambition in mind, they have developed a way to transform today’s restaurant food waste into tomorrow’s biodegradable plastics — useful for everything from creating packaging to 3D printing filament.
“Genecis uses biology to convert organic waste into higher value materials,” Luna Yu, founder and CEO of Genecis, told Digital Trends. “The first product line is PHA (polyhydroxyalkanoates) biopolymers, which is used in combination with PLA to make 3D printing filaments. It is also used to make high-end flexible packaging and containers. In addition, PHAs makes a tougher and less brittle 3D printing filament. The end product is 100 percent biodegradable, and can be mixed with a variety of colors. Currently, all PHAs are made from expensive food crops such as corn, sugar cane, and canola. Genecis has developed a novel technology that produces PHAs from mixed food waste, dramatically reducing the production costs.”
The core of Genecis’ technology involves what Yu describes as “special recipes of bacteria.” These assemble materials automatically at rapid speeds in a way that can be used to produce rare chemicals or materials which are expensive to create chemically.
“Over the past two years, Genecis has collected bacteria from all around the world, and isolated over 200 species that are not present in any existing database,” Yu continued. “This allows us to start developing our own synthetic biology platform, which rapidly creates new synthetic bacteria. These bacteria can be used to make better PHAs for 3D printing, and reprogrammed to make higher value materials used in the cosmetic, pharmaceutical, and nano-materials industries.”
Currently, Genecis is working to commercialize its first product line consisting of PHA bioplastic pellets. It is also seeking partnerships for users of its manufactured polymers. In other words, if any readers happen to be 3D printing filament makers, packaging manufacturers, or general plastic manufacturers that currently use PHAs, now is the time to get in touch!