HOW IT WORKS
Genecis transforms food waste into bioplastic using two different “recipes” of bacteria collected from around the world.
First, Genecis pre-treats the food waste with heat and acid and runs it through a mechanical grinder to break it down. Next, it’s moved to large vats called bioreactors where thousands of bacteria species work together to turn kitchen scraps and other mixed organic waste into small carbon building blocks.
During a second phase, the carbon is fed to PHA-producing bacteria, which eat it and store reserves of bioplastic granules within their cells. The bacteria store PHA like fat to use later as a natural energy reserve, but once the bacteria is full of bioplastic, Genecis harvests the granules by freeze-drying the bacteria in large batches. This breaks the cells open, allowing the company to extract the granules and manufacture them into bioplastic pellets. Plastic manufacturers can purchase the pellets to make everything from biodegradable bags and packaging to durable products, such as dashboard components in a car.
Right now, Genecis’s conversion rate is 2 per cent – roughly 45 tonnes of food waste produces one tonne of PHA plastic. While Genecis is focused on PHAs, in 2019 the company will explore using synthetic biology to create new bacteria and produce other high-value materials beyond bioplastic.