Construction, Building and Insulation

French Town Invent New Business Model for Bioplastics Thanks to the Walloon Region

It doesn't happen very often that France disrupts the bioplastics industry but it looks as if they got it right this time. And believe it or not, with the help of the Belgian Walloon region.

Miscanthus (elephant grass) has been cultivated by farmers close to Paris without pesticides or fertilizers since 2009. The prouction was intended for local use only (mulching, bedding, bioenergy), but change is on its way.

A new bioplastics was developed and they found a client for it.

Patent

The bioplastics is bio-sourced and biodegradable and made from miscanthus. The brand name of the bioplastics is Polymisc

The patent was filled in 2015. The municipalities own 51%, the Miscanthus farmers own 25% and the University of Picardy owns 24% of the patent.

The local municipalities don’t want to sell the patent to a chemical company and want to keep it for themselves. They want the production to stay in France.

Pre-Market Test & Regulatory approvals

Pre-market testing were done successfully in Belgium by the Scientific and Technical Center of Belgian construction. It took three months to go through the whole process and to approve the new bioplastic. It costed €30K and it was subsidised at 80%.

Why didn’t they do the pre-market testing in France? It takes two months to take an appointment with the French Scientific and Technical Centre for Construction, their approval procedures last 2 years and it cost €80K.

The project was supported by the Belgian Walloon Region (French-speaking) from the beginning. However, it’s not clear what will be the return of investment for the Walloon Region. Will the French remain loyal and build the new production site in Wallonia?

Production and Business

The current production unit is a test pilot that can produce 3 t / year. This is for testing purposes only. They need €1.5 Mln to produce the real production line.

The first contract was signed with Belgian company ADM for the delivery of 6 t / month during five years. It will be used to manufacture coffins. ADM will have the coffins built by Moroccan company Polyglobe. Polyglobe produces coffins made of wood and are ready to take the next step towards bioplastics. The first Polymisc coffins will be used for Jewish and Muslim burials. The coffins will be marketed in the Maghreb, Germany, Belgium and Canada.

Other negotiations are taking place for supplying parts for ambulances and military equipment in Belgium. They’re also currently looking at 3D printing and packaging for hamburgers as new applications.

Biodegradation

Polymisc (which is close bakelite) takes two to three weeks to biodegrade, depending on the local conditions such as rainfall for instance.

Revolution

The leader of the project (Olivier Suty) said that it was very hard for a French municipality to finance research, and to develop and market products. France is not a business friendly country. The commercial courts took six months to decide and agree for the creation of the company.

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