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Scunthorpe based biotech company Toraphene is preparing to unveil what it claims is a biodegradable, compostable and commercially viable alternative to plastic packaging.

torphene web image2The company has developed a new material, also called Toraphene, that uses biopolymers that compost naturally and biodegrade without human intervention, even in the ocean.

The biopolymers are combined with graphene, which is derived from carbon and is stronger than diamond at an atomic level. Toraphene can be optimized to mostly produce CO2 along with mulch that can be used to fortify topsoil.

"Amidst a climate crisis, plastic waste is known to be a huge, global problem and many plastic alternatives now exist, so why don't we see them everywhere?", asks Gaute Juliussen, CEO and Founder of Toraphene. "It's because they need specific manmade conditions to biodegrade, and many degrade into microplastics, which contaminate our oceans and food chain for centuries".

Such bioplastics have "effectively been 'greenwashed' and mis-sold to environmentally responsible consumers and companies," continues Juliussen. "They also tear easily, shorten the shelf-life of the contents they contain and cannot be produced economically at scale".

torphene web ceo copyGaute Juliussen explained: "The biopolymers we use in Toraphene include those sourced from cellulose, seaweed, methane from landfills, plant oils from starch, etc, and some of them are 100% compostable in our oceans.

"More specifically, starch-based products (from maize, cane sugar, cassava, etc) are produced by a number of factories in many countries, totalling in excess of 200,000 tons per year. Algae/seaweed is more widely available. Estimates for annual production is in excess of 30 million tonnes, so the scale is already there to tap into."

Due to the addition of Graphene, Toraphene has been shown to be stronger, thinner, and less permeable than many alternatives, improving food safety and shelf-life. .

An entrepreneur, venture capitalist and former Associate Professor of Business, Juliussen founded Toraphene in 2018 with the initial aim of creating a green alternative to carrier bags and food and drink containers. Such plastics make up 23 percent of marine waste.

Birgit Liodden, founder of The Ocean Opportunity Lab, said: "Toraphene has the potential to create a critical turning point in tackling the global plastic pollution crisis.

torphene web graphene"We all know how pressing the climate crisis is, and plastic pollution is a huge problem, particularly in our ocean environments. I'm very heartened by the prospect of Toraphene, which should be a transformative step in tackling plastic pollution and play a huge role in making the world's oceans plastic-free".

Ahead of the launch of Toraphene, which is patented in the UK, EU, and the US, Juliussen is launching an equity crowdfunding campaign on Crowdcube.

Toraphene is renting production equipment from plastic bag manufacturers and plugging directly into existing supply chains. The company is in talks with major consumer brands, retailers and food packaging suppliers.

Ultimately, Toraphene aims to render plastic packaging obsolete and disrupt the $4 trillion plastics industry.