Clawesome idea: Aussie company converts crustacean shells to plastic

October 12, 2020 |

In Australia, Carapac is working to commercialize a process that converts waste crustacean shells from Asia Pacific’s seafood industry into biodegradable, soil-enriching bioplastic films.

Kimberly Bolton, CEO of Carapac, tells AUManufacturing the company uses chitosan, extracted from shrimp and crab shells, to make films that biodegrade in 90 days—depositing nutrient nitrogen into the soil in the process.

The company was launched out of University of Sydney and founded by Bolton, Michelle Demers, and Jared Wood.  “We started delving into the plastic waste problem and discovered that we could potentially make plastic alternatives out of crustacean shell waste, which has a quicker breakdown in comparison to other biodegradable and compostable materials that are out on the market,” Bolton says, adding that petrochemical-based plastic that calls itself biodegradable because it quickly breaks down into microplastics is an “ absolute pet peeve” of hers.

Bolton adds that 8.1 million tonnes of crustacean shell waste is generated in Asia Pacific annually. The company is still in the development phase, but its materials could eventually replace polyethylene and polypropylene in several applications. “We’ve been able to develop a semi-rigid material as well, but are focusing on flexible materials at the moment,” Bolton says. “We can make a range of different flexible materials like bags or pouches. And each of those have different requirements. We’ve also developed a clingfilm. And an adhesive.”  The company will be looking to raise funds for scale-up “relatively soon,” she adds.

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Category: Chemicals & Materials

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