Food Marketing and Technology Magazine, India had an opportunity to interact with Mukul Sareen and Sidharth Sareen, two young Directors of Hi-Tech Group. They have come up with a brand Dr Bio based on biopolymers. The company is passionate about sustainability and circular economy.
1. What is the thought behind Dr Bio brand?
Hi-Tech group is a 38 years old manufacturer of master batches, resins and films and has developed a new range of renewable and compostable bio based biopolymers. It has been our vision to improve the sustainability and to anticipate market trends and future environmental regulations. Our bio polymers are produced from corn starch in the agriculture rich region of Punjab and are available in 45 countries. Hi Tech Group’s commitment towards sustainability is oriented to reduce the greenhouse gasses impact, minimize the dependence on fossil oil derivatives, and promote the use of renewable energies and to reduce the plastic waste in the environment.
Dr. Bio is another innovation from our stable, which is a testament to our vision and values. Dr. Bio is India’s only compostable polymer, which means the plastic made from this polymer will disintegrate after 12 weeks and will completely biodegrade after six months. That means that 90 percent or more of the plastic material will have been converted to CO2. The remaining share is converted into water and biomass, which no longer contains any plastic. No heavy metal contents and no harmful substances should be left behind.
2. How challenging is it to commercialization of a product conceived in a lab?
Product has already been commercialised in various applications. There are various niche applications which we are working on with different client base including frozen food industry, meat packaging, drinking water bottles and carbonated drinks etc. where there are a lot of validations to be done. The applications in which it has already been stabilised are cutlery, bags, packaging, thin films, stretch films and a lot of industrial and consumer grade packaging. We have also recently got our test reports by SGS for US FDA 21 CFR testing to check the extractable portions of the product coming into food contact. There are various other series of tests undergoing for validation of liquid packaging.
3. It looks like it is going to be a super hit product. What are initial hiccups you envisage?
The mass production has already started for bio-polymer. We are finding various avenues to create value in the supply chain of various organisations. The adaptability of the bio-polymer on current plastic has also been established through rigorous trials that have been undertaken in the recent past. Bio-polymer has been found suitable to be used in the manufacturing of pro-moulding, injection moulding and blown film extrusion lines on which the recyclable plastic have been in use. We are prospecting the products to various B2B and consumer based applications and working on pilot lots with various multi-national corporations to incorporate this as an alternative technology/ product stream as compared to what they have been using so far i.e recycled plastics.
4. Has the product being launched in the market or is it at the stage of getting there? If not please define the time line.
We have commercially launched Dr. Bio and some customers have accepted it. We are also exporting the biopolymers to Europe, the US, South America and South Africa. We have started pitching our product to e-commerce firms too and so far, we have got good traction.
5. Could you highlight a few key difference between a plant based polymer and the existing polymer?
Bioplastics (made out of plant based polymer) are a large family of different materials with widely varying properties. Drop-in solutions, such as bio-based PE or bio-based PET can be mechanically recycled in established recycling streams. Biodegradable and compostable plastics can be organically recycled (industrial composting and anaerobic digestion). All bioplastics can also be treated in recovery streams (incineration and the production of renewable energy due to the bio-based origin). As with conventional plastics, the manner in which bioplastics waste is recovered depends on the type of the product, the bioplastics material used, as well as the volumes and recycling and recovery systems available.
Bioplastics (made out of plant based polymer) disintegrate after 12 weeks and completely biodegrade after six months that means 90% or more of plastic material will have been converted to co2. The remaining share is converted into water and biomass, which no longer contains any plastic. No heavy metal contents and no harmful substances left behind. Test is undergoing at CIPET.
The major advantage is that bio-based polymers replace fossil carbon in the production process with renewable carbon from biomass. This is indispensable for a sustainable, climate-friendly plastics industry.
The second advantage is offered by more than half of the produced bio-based polymers: they are biodegradable (depending on the environment) and can therefore be a solution for plastics that cannot be collected and enter the environment. This results in elimination of microplastics from our environment.
6. What are its applications in the food industry?
We manufacture bio degradable polymer and selling it to packaging industry. No up gradation of machinery is required for users using Dr Bio Polymer. We manufacture packaging material according to the need of customers. The products offered by the company are used in different sectors and applications such as fresh food packaging and folded cartons.
The final bio-plastic product contains no genetic traces. Therefore the resulting bioplastic product is well suited to use in food packaging as it contains no genetically modified material and cannot interact with the contents.
7. What are its positive impacts on the environment?
According to some reports, Urban India generates 62 million tons of waste (MSW) annually, and this will reach 165 million tons in 2030. 43 million tons of municipal solid waste is collected annually, out of which 31 million is dumped in landfill sites and just 11.9 million is treated. Contrary to the composition of waste in western countries, the majority of India’s waste is organic which means that there is a tremendous opportunity to compost it. This waste ends up in the landfills and result in polluting land, ground water.
The usual methods of recycling are not that effective. For example, there is a limit to recycling paper and every kg of paper uses 70 liters of water to recycle, which is counterproductive. Similarly, the process of recycling aluminum and recyclable plastic has high upfront capital costs and these processes themselves are unhygienic and unsafe. Even the recycles products are not of very high quality. The major advantage of Dr. Bio is that the bio-based polymers replace fossil carbon in the production process with renewable carbon from biomass. This is indispensable for a sustainable, climate-friendly plastics industry. The second advantage is that they are biodegradable (depending on the environment) and can therefore be a solution for plastics that cannot be collected. This results in elimination of micro plastics from our environment.