Using technology developed by U of M biochemist Simo Sarkanen, four students from the University of Arkansas have launched a startup company that will manufacture biodegradable plastic bags. The founders formed cycleWood Solutions Inc. after creating a business plan around the technology for an entrepreneurship class.
“The point of the class was to build a viable business,” said Nhiem Cao, president and CEO of cycleWood Solutions. He found the technology, a lignin-based biodegradable plastic, on the U of M Office for Technology Commercialization’s website. They then completed an option agreement for the technology and later licensed it to launch the startup.
According to Cao, one million plastic bags are used globally every minute. Some discarded bags will sit forever in landfills, some will pollute the world’s oceans and landscapes as litter and less than one percent will be recycled. Cao hopes cycleWood will be part of the solution to this problem.
“Our product will biodegrade in 150 days,” said Cao. “Instead of having a growing problem, the problem will gradually go away.”

Although details are not yet finalized, Cao anticipates the startup will provide the product at a slightly higher price point than traditional plastic bags but still be a substantial savings over biodegradable options currently available. Several corporate retailers have already indicated interest in the bags.
This story is reprinted from material from the University of Minnesota, with editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier. Link to original source.