Novozymes has entered into a partnership with French Carbios and its subsidiary Carbiolice, which aim to launch degradable bioplastics with limited lifespan for the packaging industry by 2020.
Under the terms the agreement, Novozymes, the world's largest enzyme supplier, will upscale and produce Carbios' patented plastics-degrading enzymes. Novozymes also agreed to become the long-term exclusive supplier for those plastics-degrading enzymes to Carbiolice.
Carbiolice is a joint venture formed in September 2016 by Carbios, Limagrain Céréales Ingrédients and Bpifrance in order to produce and licence a new generation of biosourced and biodegradable single-use plastics with in-built enzyme pellets that limit the plastics’ lifespan. Full biodegradability of single-use plastics such as poly-lactic acid (PLA) and poly-ethylene terephtalate (PET) has been achieved by embedding enzymes into plastic materials during production, thus enabling them to fully biodegrade with a controlled life span. After use or while the plastics are scattered in the environment, they are degraded enzymatically into base molecules that can be assimilated by the micro-organisms in nature. Full decomposition is a major difference to so-called oxo-biodegradables that are just degraded to smaller parts such as microplastics that persist in the environment.
Jens Kolind, VP Technical Industries at Nozvozymes said: "We are excited to be part of this joint collaboration where we work together on finding biological solutions to answer one of the biggest challenges of our time."
Carbiolice today manufactures maize-based compounds and biopolymers for plastic manufacturers involved in different markets. The company got seed-financing of €4m in 2016 from its three founders who gave their committment to fund the company with €18m in total until 2020 (€11m thereof from BPI France) according to the achievement of pre-defined milestones. In June, Carbiolice received a milestone payment of €3.35m for having produced masterbatches serving to produce 100% compostable and 100% biodegradable single-use plastics. The range of commercial applications of Carbiolice are single-use plastics for grocery and retail bags, rigid and flexible packaging, disposable tableware and agricultural mulch films. Nadia Auclair, CEO of Carbiolice commented: "This major agreement with Novozymes secures our long-term supply of enzymes to move from traditional manufacturing to sustainable solutions that meet strong market demand. Today, we are proud to make of our solution, an industrial and commercial reality."
The collaboration aims to make single use plastics environmentally-friendly through biodegradability and cost-competitive. Carbiolice aims to launch the first product that is fully biodegradable in any environmental condition by 2020. Carbios will be entitled to receive royalties from Carbiolice from this point in time. Carbios has licenced the rights to use its patented PLA- and PET-degrading enzymes to Carbiolice in which it holds a 37% stake.
According to Jean-Claude Lumaret, CEO of Carbios, "the market of single-use plastics raises major environmental concerns and our sustainable and inventive approach is now opening huge opportunities to fulfil industrials and consumers demand while fighting the threat of plastic pollution."