Written by Ana P., Bruno R., Mónica S., Yoni E.
Our daily life should be shaped around the certitude that there is no planet B and our natural resources are limited. Therefore, our political and moral duty is to provide a sustainable future for the next generations. Hence, several private and governmental organizations are focused on creating the best regulations1 to ensure a greener and more sustainable future for all of us.
One of the most relevant problems of our modern way of life is single-use plastics. Nowadays, everyone can get these objects almost everywhere because they are so practical, easy, and cheap to produce. However, in most cases, they cannot be recycled or reused and consequently represent a massive waste of our natural resources2. One way to fitting this urgent problem is to develop low-cost alternatives for single-use plastic disposable containers (bottles, cups, bags, packages) or hygiene products (diapers and pads) that are non-biodegradable and difficult or impossible to reuse/recycle. In addition to the push caused by all regulations, consumers and producers are becoming aware of this problem, powering the development of more sustainable alternatives. In this path, paper/wood and cellulose-based products are popular due to their nature, properties, cost, and recyclability.
Its already common to only see paper bags in shops/supermarkets and to use paper cups, plates, straws, biodegradable tissues, pads, diapers, and all other sources of packages for raw and cooked food, textiles, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and technology instead of plastic or plastic-based ones. Besides the daily use products, other sustainable and outstanding products have been catching the eye of the most concerned people, such as the paper-cored furniture from IKEA or the paper bottles from Carlsberg3 and Johnnie Walker4.
The future also holds some incredible opportunities to incorporate cellulose into our daily lives, as the new Japanese prototype car, built using only cellulose nanocrystals composites, with the half weight of ordinary four-wheel vehicles (The Nano Cellulose Vehicle - NCV5). Moreover, its production process drastically reduces the carbon emissions traditionally associated with automotive manufacturing. The production of lightweight, highly resistant materials exemplifies how cellulose is entering fields where it was not imaginable a few years ago.
Another case is the rapid development of paper-based electronics6, taking advantage of the characteristics of the natural fiber (flexibility, printability, and biodegradability) and incorporate them in electronic sensors, RFID tags, and energy harvesting devices, addressing the ever-growing issue of e-waste generated by a highly integrated and data-driven generation7.
Furthermore, becoming greener is not just the right thing to do for the planet but also an opportunity to the companies to keep relevant as an example of innovation/sustainability and recruit new environmental involved costumers8. The statistics demonstrate that people are willing to pay more for green products, made from natural and responsible resources, durable, easy to reuse and recycle. Therefore, turning your company greener is a smart investment that should be seen as a unique business opportunity9. Nature has spent millions of years perfecting cellulose, the main building block of plants and trees, and gifted us a unique and versatile material. If we want to coexist with nature, we should follow her lead and continue the evolution of a synergic interaction between humans and our environment (there is no planet B!).
AlmaScience CoLAB is taking up this challenge, developing cellulose and paper-based solutions that turn today's industry needs into tomorrow's products. We develop futuristic smart products made with recycled materials like cellulose or cork in combination with functional and reactive inks, resulting in applications for smart homes and industries that a couple of years ago seems impossible but nowadays we make them a reality and at the service of industries and the public at large.
Regardless of your business core, contact us to learn more about our R&D program and how we can make new business opportunities together.
To learn more and for partnerships contact
Dr. Yoni Engel
Business Development Manager
1. European Parliament, C. of the E. U. Directive (EU) 2019/904 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 June 2019 on the reduction of the impact of certain plastic products on the environment. Official Journal of the European Union https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX:32019L0904 (2019).
2. Courtney Lindwall. Single-Use Plastics 101. Natural Resources Defense Council https://www.nrdc.org/stories/single-use-plastics-101 (2020).
3. Carlsberg. Carlsberg makes bio-based and fully recyclable bottles available to consumers in its largest ever trial. Carlsberg Breweries A/S https://www.carlsberggroup.com/newsroom/carlsberg-makes-bio-based-and-fully-recyclable-bottles-available-to-consumers-in-its-largest-ever-trial/ (2022).
4. Samatha Newby. Welcome to the Bottle of Tomorrow. Johnnie Walker https://www.johnniewalker.com/en/nextsteps/pulp-future/ (2020).
5. Reyes, A. This is Japan’s Nano Cellulose Vehicle (NCV), and it’s a supercar made of wood. dlmag (2019).
6. Engel, Y. Revolutionary Paper-based Electronics. AlmaScience CoLAB https://almascience.pt/news/revolutionary-paper-based-electronics/ (2022).
7. Ferreira, G. et al. Smart IoT enabled interactive self-powered security tag designed with functionalized paper. Nano Energy 95, 107021 (2022).
8. What is the Business Value of Sustainability? Rainforest Alliance https://www.rainforest-alliance.org/business/marketing-sustainability/what-is-the-business-value-of-sustainability/ (2022).
9. Molenaar, J.W. and Kessler, J. J. The business benefits of using sustainability standards. https://www.isealalliance.org/get-involved/resources/business-benefits-using-sustainability-standards-report-summary-and-webinar (2017).