Start-ups Batch #2

Leather has a large environmental impact, and the use of leather presents an increasing ethical problem for many people who disapprove of killing animals for food and clothing.

BATWATEX produces a sustainable, recyclable, vegan leather made from potato leaves and technical hemp fiber. Their material tackles environmentally harmful properties by upcycling potato leaves that would conventionally be burned. On the other hand, it maintains the durable properties of leather by the fact that it consists of two layers which are compressed together. The base layer consists of felted, non-woven plant fibers from the potato leaves and the second layer is pressed with PLA.

Batwatex has already produced several samples of the base layer with a thickness of 3, 5 or 7 mm and A4 size in the factory. Their next step is finalizing the texture by covering the samples with their PLA top layer. Batwatex's leather substitute can be used to produce shoes, bags, accessories, clothes, and interior pieces.

Synthetic nonbiodegradable polymers like acrylates, polyethylene, polystyrene, acrylic copolymers, carbomer, PMMA, etc. are an integral part of day-to-day personal and consumer care formulation as solid and liquid microplastics. These are fossil fuel-based, non-biodegradable polymers that are added as solid microplastics and/or liquid polymers to formulate the products. Researchers have confirmed that, via the food chain, these polymers end up in the human body.

The European Chemical Agency is coming up with a ban on microplastics in personal care products and agriculture (seed coatings). All different types of microplastics and nonbiodegradable polymers will be phased out by 2028. Biodegradability is one of the major criteria. Claim can only be obtained if all ingredients should be 100 % biodegradable in 60 days.

Currently, chemical and consumer companies are looking for biobased and biodegradable replacements, that are not only biodegradable but also stable in range of pH and temperature.

Bioweg has developed 100% bio-based biodegradable substitutes, made from fermentation of bacterial cellulose (made out of waste material from food industry), material chemistry and molecular dynamics simulations, to replace solid microplastics (microbeads) and liquid polymers (rheology modifier) with biobased ingredients in compliance to all regulatory and end product formulation requirements.

Nigerian communities face two major challenges: Plastic waste and homelessness. The country is in urgent need of building 22 million housing units, apart from schools, public community centers, kiosks, toilets etc.

Brickify is using the existing plastic waste problem, caused by inefficient waste management systems, to solve the problem of homelessness in developing countries, by recycling plastic waste into water-, fire- and heat-resistant building elements that are used to build low-cost homes. The building blocks produced by Brickify work like LEGO, are stronger and 50% cheaper than conventional bricks. All sorts of plastics are recycled, except PVCs.

Diwama aims to eliminate sorting errors and contamination in waste management activities to achieve full circularity.

Diwama is introducing Artificial Intelligence and Big Data to waste management to elevate the performance of the recycling industry with efficiency and sustainability. Deep learning, part of Artificial Intelligence, is the core technology behind Diwama's products. The deep learning algorithms used are open source, modified for best performance in detecting waste and trained on unique datasets.

Diwama has developed an AI-powered image recognition software that automates waste detection and analysis enabling data-driven decisions to increase recycling rates. The software is deployed in municipal material recovery facilities, mobile applications, and bins.

In Uganda alone, over 51% of the 600 tons of plastics generated every day remain uncollected, thus ending into drainage channels, rivers, and oceans.

The Ugandan startup Ecoplastile founded in 2019 has developed a locally produced alternative to imported tiles, timbers, and roofing tiles. These alternative products are made of 100% recycled plastic waste, glass, agricultural residues and sand, and are thereby durable, environmentally sustainable and affordable.

The company has developed an innovative, chemical free, and energy conserving plastic extrusion technology, which converts more than 7 different types of plastics into timber saving roofing tiles and other building materials with high market demand by the construction industry.

Ecoplastile aims to build waste-free communities and create affordable housing by incentivizing recycling, reducing the impact of climate change, and creating opportunities, particularly for disadvantaged communities. The company also provides direct and indirect green employment opportunities to informal waste pickers who are the key suppliers of their input material.

Waste collection is organized through WasteInsure, a program and mobile app that allows slum dwellers, businesses and other communities to exchange waste as a form of financial resource for insurance points.

Deforestation is one of the major causes of climate change 1.000.000 trees are cut for papermaking. 90% of the imported plastic bags and packaging in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are found in nature after their use.

Ecoplus produces biodegradable and recyclable paper bags and packaging from agricultural waste (from banana and sugar cane fibres). The bags are hydrophobic, i.e. they are water and oil resistant and very resistant to mechanical abuse, they can withstand a weight of up to 50 kg.
Consumer Goods I Packaging
The construction sector is the largest polluter in the world. The main reason is the grey energy needed for the production of materials. Nevertheless, every day buildings are getting demolished, the materials are getting landfilled and new buildings with new materials are put on the same spot.

Concular wants to change that by creating real reuse of the materials. Their solutions allow them to digitize materials in existing buildings and reintroduce these materials in new buildings before the demolition is happening.

Green Ocean applies high tech to one of the most pressing challenges facing humanity – water scarcity.
Green Ocean develops, builds and operates next generation technologies for the environmentally-friendly disposal of highly toxic and heavily to non-biodegradable industrial wastewater.

Its innovative integrated wastewater processing is universally applicable, highly efficient and offers substantial cost savings.

Green Ocean's technologies reduce toxicity significantly by 70-90%. The residual substances are highly biodegradable. Problematic wastewater is converted to qualities that correspond or exceed wastewater from private households. As the process is sludge-free, there is no requirement for any interim or final storage of non-biodegradable constituents or sewage sludge.

Green Ocean's wastewater technologies meet all requirements of a next generation disposition strategy and close the loop to water circularity.

Building I Infrastructure
Buildings, both in the construction phase as well as occupancy stage consume a lot of energy.

Innovation City Ventures' philosophy is to be a one-stop shop for innovation in building energy management and cutting-edge renewable energy applications in buildings. They source, manufacture and install building fabrics that also serve as renewable energy source such as solar roof tiles, PV glass for windows, exterior glass partitions and skylights, solar facades, solar sun-shading devices, balustrades and walkable floors.
On average, every person uses almost 11 bottles of shower gel and 10 bottles of shampoo per year. Most of these bottles end up in landfills.

Kagzi Bottles has developed a bottle for non-edible liquid packaging made from biodegradable paper waste. It is compostable and holds liquids for at least 6 months. These bottles are squeezable like plastic shower gel and shampoo bottles and can be branded.
Unlike its competitors, Kagzi Bottles uses solely paper as a material for the bottle itself.

Nanotechnology is used to create a waterproof barrier inside the bottle to keep the paper from soaking up water – like a lotus leaf.

Kagzi Bottles initially used caps made of cork. But because of problems in transportability, caps made of bioplastic are used now.

Many valuable materials from the construction sector are not available for recycling and reuse because they are insufficiently registered and documented.

Madaster is a global online platform that enables the circular use of materials and products in the construction industry. On the online platform, complete buildings can be registered so that material passports can be created for buildings. Material passports provide information on the quality, origin and location of materials and products as well as the recycling share and potential. They thus give an insight into the material, circular and financial value of a building.

Property owners and third parties (e.g. architects, manufacturers) can store, manage, and share data about their properties. Madaster supports the management and disposal of real estate and the reuse of materials and products. All data are provided on a licensing base.

Products from plant substances I Consumer Goods I Packaging
Food waste causes 10% of greenhouse gases worldwide. On the other hand, millions of tons of plastic and plastic film end up on the ocean ground or in landfills. Single-use plastics often cannot be recycled. Both problems are serious threats to entire ecosystems around the globe.

Mi Terro, an advanced material science and synthetic biology company that utilizes big data, tries to address both problems simultaneously by using agricultural waste to produce plant-based biodegradable packaging, which can replace single use plastic. The products are compostable and are also degradable in water.

One product developed by Mi Terro is a thin and flexible film that consists of 70% to 80% protein that is extracted from waste from the production of beer (spent grain). Under the right conditions, Mi Terro can cause plant proteins to self-assemble just like spider silk. This technique produces protein structures with enhanced intermolecular interactions guided by hydrogen bond formation. Among several other uses, it can be used for printable product labels.

Another development is a more rigid material for packaging made from fiber and starch from agricultural waste. It can be used to produce bottles, plates and takeout boxes.

Mutenga Bamboo's goal is to preserve the environment, restore forestry, industrialize rural areas, and mitigate climate change by advocating for the use of bamboo for multiple different purposes. Mutenga Bamboo offers bamboo seedlings and everyday products made from bamboo, such as charcoal, water purifier and toothpicks. Mutenga also designed a syngas pyrolysis plant to generate fuel for electricity generation.

Mutenga Bamboo primarily utilizes bamboo's property of being the fastest growing wood. By planting bamboo – in the rainy season – as an alternative to regular trees in rural communities in Zimbabwe, the company aims to preserve forests and thus halt climate change. Even if bamboo is used as firewood as a substitute for fuel to generate electricity, the bamboo plantation regenerates quickly.

Post-harvest losses of fruits, vegetables, tubers, and roots are a global problem associated with high greenhouse gas emissions.

Paraexcel Global's patented product Phytorbit is a plant-based edible coating for fruits and vegetables. It is sold to farmers as a powder, that is diluted with water and then sprayed on fruits and vegetables directly after harvesting. The products can also be dipped into the solution.

Phytorbit creates an invisible layer of coating that serves as a barrier, reducing the gaseous exchange between the coated product and the atmosphere, thereby reducing weight loss. One gram of powder is diluted in one liter of water and costs about 2,500 to 3,000 Naira (about 6 Euro). This solution of one gram can coat 200 kilograms of tomatoes.

The powder is made of organic waste such as watermelon rind, hibiscus leaves, orange peel, seeds, and roots, that the startup gets as waste from food markets. Through an ozone-hydroxyl-cleaning- and sterilization-process germs, pesticides, and other impurities are removed. The product contains no chemicals like paraffin as found in wax.

An analysis by the Department of Pharmacognosy and Herbal Medicine at Bayero University in Kano, Nigeria showed that Phytorbit is safe for human consumption, extends the shelf life of some fresh agricultural products and inhibits the growth of microorganisms.

In the EU, only 33% of plastics is recycled, the rest goes to landfills or is incinerated.
Swiss company Plastogaz uses a catalytic hydrocracking process to convert multilayer packaging back into its original components. The process allows the conversion of plastic into new polymers without any loss of quality.

Plastogaz is a technology company founded in 2020 that focuses on the development of new processes for the circular economy.

There is a growing awareness in society that plastic is a threat to nature. Yet there is little talk about the synthetic fabric waste of the clothing industry, although both are basically the same.

Poliverde wants to reduce this waste. About 25% of nylon is usually thrown away during the clothing production process. Poliverde offers clothing companies a paid service of collecting synthetic fabric scraps. These scraps are turned into a raw material: nylon in the form of small pellets.

Poliverde has developed a technology to eco-friendly recycle polyamide (= nylon) fabric scraps of type nylon 6 and nylon 66. After the fabric is separated from residues, it is heated and boiled. The boiling process differs slightly for nylon 6 and nylon 66. In both cases two layers emerge in the liquid – one that consists of nylon and one that consists of other chemicals like elastane / spandex. After the chemicals are separated, an extruder is used to create the nylon pellets. These are sold and can be used to make yarns and fabrics again or can be used in the engineering and plastics industries, in 3D printers for example. Since solar energy is used to heat the chemicals, the process is eco-friendly. In Brazil nylon is currently quite expensive.

PV modules contain raw materials which are either strategic and critical such as highly pure silicon, or expensive such as silver and copper. Proper recycling of end-of-life PV modules through high value raw material revalorization not only reduces industrial waste, but also offers a rich source of highly pure raw materials. Following the large-scale deployment of solar energy in Europe starting from last century, there are huge market and technology opportunities to establish a circular economy in the PV industry.

Rosi is engaged in developing and industrializing its proprietary technologies for high-value recycling of end-of-life PV modules. Within the framework of Soren (formerly PV-cycle France) tender call in 2021, Rosi has kicked off the construction of industrial line dedicated to silicon, silver and copper revalorization in France. This site, so-called Centre d'Excellence de Grenoble, is scheduled to kick off its operation by the end of 2022. Rosi wants to bring its technologies and innovations to the largest PV market in Europe – Germany.

Tires are not efficiently disposed of and recycled in Latin America.

Since 2018, the Ecuadorian startup Seginus performs the management of used car tires in Ecuador being a reference in several Latin American countries, as well as for other sectors, such as oils and batteries. It represents the first non-profit collective system that articulates the recycling chain of scrap tires and works to ensure that the tire cycle does not end by transforming tires into energy, flooring and materials for craftsmen, among other things. The collective management model developed integrates all the actors of the value chain: importers, producers, managers, traders, consumers, and public institutions, in total more than 2,500 points at national level.

Seginus has developed a web platform that connects all the actors and registers the transactions of all the actors of the value chain from the one who requests the collection to the treatment of the tires. An algorithm has been created to collect and optimize the pickup of tires and their transportation to the treatment supplier where they can be disposed appropriately.

The recovery of tires at the end of their useful life is key to the sustainability of Seginus' business platform. The startup, therefore, is interested in existing initiatives to promote ecological roads made with rubber from used car tires as well as tire destruction systems to obtain raw materials that can be reused in the production of new tires.

Conventional tiles are made with new resources. Their extraction always leads to environmental degradation and pollution. At the same time, all over the world, huge amounts of construction debris are dumped in landfills.

SHARDS embodies the idea of urban mining and makes tiles from debris. All the raw materials the company uses are recycled – glass and different kinds of bricks and roof tiles – are pulverized, then shaped and heated in an electric kiln, that is using green energy. No artificial colouring is added during the production process.

Space Era
Space Era has created a prototype of a shelter home for effective quarantining during the COVID-19 pandemic. This prototype serves not only as a safe quarantine shelter but can also be used as a shelter home in flood and earthquake-prone regions too.

In Africa and South Asia as well as other undeveloped countries, there is little room for people suspected of or already having Covid-19 to quarantine without a high probability of infecting others. Space Era, therefore, has developed an intermediate, sustainable shelter space for Covid-19 and other humanitarian emergencies.

Space Era's innovation provides vertical expansion, accounts for Covid-19 social distancing, fire safety and incorporates local sustainable building materials, also re-using upcycled materials.

The rise in e-commerce leads to an increasing demand of single use padded envelopes made from plastic and paper composites. These envelopes are often disposed in residual or paper waste, prohibiting efficient resource recycling.

Developed by two environment engineers, Transfairbag replaces this type of bubble mailer with a product that is only made of paper and thus can be disposed with other paper waste. The product is designed to be sustainable, elastic, size flexible and affordable. Transfairbag is also very light; alternatives weight more by a factor of three.

The envelopes consist of two layers of kraft paper and resistant cushioning material which is made from specially prepared paper fibres to maintain the properties of elastic and size-flexible padding. The paper used to produce the envelopes solely is recycled. The paper used to produce the envelopes solely is recycled.

Sand as a resource is becoming increasingly scarce, while at the same time the demand for sand is increasing. Additionally, the amount of plastic waste is about 226,5 kg per person per year.

Zelij Invent has developed an eco-friendly construction product, the hollow block, which is made of 50% plastic waste. The granulated plastic is mixed with 38% recycled glass. The rest is made up of sand, cement, and a special glue. The blocks can be stacked similar to Lego-blocks and are fixed by a mortar based of an own formula.

Hollow blocks can be recycled in their shape or re-grinded to create new blocks. They can be used like concrete blocks and are harder and more durable than concrete blocks.

Additionally, no CO2 emissions are released during the production process, because after molding, the blocks only need to dry instead of being burned.

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