When most people think of Mexico they think of sun, tequila, and food… specifically guacamole. But if Scott Munguia’s company Biofase has their way you’ll add biodegradable plastic to that list!
“As plastic straws and disposable cutlery fall out of favor for their potential to inflict environmental damage, a company with an alternative that uses avocado pits is getting more attention.
Morelia, Michoacán-based Biofase is manufacturing biodegradable cutlery and straws made out avocado seeds using a process whose beginnings date back to 2012.”1
At the time, Scott Mungía was a chemical engineering student motivated to solve pollution problems. After a trial-and-error process testing the properties of raw mango and mamey sapote seeds he stumbled upon a paper with a picture of a corn molecule used to make bioplastic.
And eureka! An idea was born.
After working for over a year he found an effective method to extract a molecular compound from the avocado pit and obtain a biopolymer that could be molded into any desired shape. His products biodegrade after 240 days of being exposed to the elements or buried in the ground, while their fossil fuel-based counterparts can take more than 100 years.
In 2013, Munguía had his process patented and founded Biofase, in 2015 he installed his first plant (in Morelia) to manufacture 100% biodegradable eco-friendly plastic resins and sell the raw material, and in 2016 he decided to start manufacturing his own bioplastic-based products at a second plant. He started with plastic cutlery and just this month moved into straws!
After a two-year development process, he now has 14 employees that come November, will have the capacity to deal with 700 tons of pits a month.
“Mexico produces 300,000 pounds of avocados, or about 50% of the world’s supply. The global market for bioplastic is $5.8 billion, according to Bioplastics News. Avocado seeds pile up in Mexico like nowhere else in the world, and most end up being burned at landfill sites.”1
While Mexico is currently the second biggest market for Biofase, their main customers are chain restaurants (such as Fiesta Americana, P. F. Chang’s China Bistro and Chili’s Grill & Bar), rather than consumers.
We love his ingenuity and concern for the environment. And hey, I’d buy his straws! Hopefully, with a bit more attention they will start marketing to the consumer outside of Mexico.