create / 2021
Ocean degradable and home compostable flexible packaging materials made from agricultural waste
In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?
- East LA
- San Gabriel Valley
- County of Los Angeles
- City of Los Angeles
What is the problem that you are seeking to address?
The increasing amount of synthetic plastic waste is a huge problem that could potentially be solved with bioplastics. Despite increasing efforts to recycle, approximately 53% of waste in the US is still sent to landfill and plastic waste makes up about 19% of that. People are becoming more aware of the damage that plastic waste can cause to the environment, it is still extremely prevalent in daily lives, from packaging to clothing. The plastic used for food and beverage packaging makes up 2/3 of the world’s plastic waste. Flexible packaging is a growing segment of the world’s packaging market. The world produces 78 million tons of flexible packaging film every year. Even though the volume of flexible packaging is smaller by weight and space, most flexible packaging cannot be practically recycled. Flexible packaging isn’t made of pure plastic polymers but rather made by blending several materials. These blended materials make flexible packaging complicated for separation and recycling.
Describe the project, program, or initiative that this grant will support to address the problem identified.
Unlike current alternatives to microplastics, which are based on plant polysaccharides, such as cellulose and algae, Mi Terro’s plant protein materials do not rely on chemical cross-linking for their performance. This enables them to decompose quickly and completely in the natural environment. Our proprietary technology re-engineers agricultural waste into plastic-alternative packaging material. Our packaging film is 3-4 times cheaper than other bio-based materials (PLA, PHA, PBAT), is at a similar price as LDPE film, home compostable, ocean degradable, heat sealable, excellent water and oxygen barrier, low thickness, and potentially edible. Our technology can potentially apply to any type of agricultural byproducts and surplus food, including plant, dairy, and vitamin supplement byproducts. Our process uses less energy than paper and plastic production while creating 90% less CO2 than plastic. Our material accommodates a diverse range of fully compostable packaging applications for fresh produce, dry food, fashion, and standard product packaging.
In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?Pilot or new project, program, or initiative
Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?
- Direct impact
- Indirect impact
Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.
Selective agricultural waste and food waste at commercial buildings, schools, grocery stores, and home can be upcycled and processed into plastic-alternative materials. We will create hundreds of jobs to underrepresented communities.
What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?
We measure success by the amount of agricultural waste we upcycle and plastic film we replace. In addition, we measure our success by the number of employees we hire. 2022: we will start manufacturing at a small scale, which equals 10,000+ rolls of films. 2023: we will start manufacturing at a semi-commercial scale, which equals 200,000+ rolls of films. 2024: we start manufacturing at a commercial scale, which equals 1,000,000+ rolls of films.
Which of the create metrics will you impact?
- Federal research grant funding
- Venture capital investment
Indicate any additional LA2050 goals your project will impact.
- LA is the best place to LEARN
- LA is the best place to PLAY
- LA is the best place to CONNECT