Our research and development activities are tightly focused on tackling the intrinsic synthesis of bioplastics that currently keeps costs high and limits performance. Responding to these challenges will enable us to accelerate the adoption of innovative, natural plastics across an even wider range of markets.
Biome Bioplastics is conducting research into a new, plentiful source of organic chemicals for the manufacture of bioplastics that could significantly reduce costs, expand functionality and increase performance. Backed by a grant from the UK’s innovation agency, the Technology Strategy Board, and working in partnership with the University of Warwick’s Centre for Industrial Biotechnology and Biorefining, we are conducting a pioneering project to investigate the possibility of using lignin as an alternative, bio-based source of aromatic chemicals.
The project has successfully demonstrated that bacteria can be effective in the selective degradation of lignin, and that the breakdown pathway can be controlled and improved using synthetic biology. Crucially, several organic chemicals have been produced at laboratory scale in promising yields that have potential use in bioplastic manufacture.
Initial scale-up trials on several of these target chemicals have demonstrated the potential for them to be produced at industrial scale, suggesting the commercial feasibility of using lignin-derived chemicals as an alternative for their petrochemical counterparts. We have also transformed these chemicals into a material that shows promising properties for use as an advanced bioplastic.
The next phase of the project will examine how the yields of these organic chemicals can be increased using different bacteria and explore options for further scale-up of this technology. The first commercial target is to use the lignin-derived chemicals to replace the oil-derived equivalents currently used to convey strength and flexibility in some of our products, further reducing cost and enhancing sustainability.
Robust estimates of the global industrial biotechnology market by 2025 range from £150 billion to £360 billion; similar estimates for the UK industrial biotechnology market range from £4 billion to £12 billion.
Industrial Biotechnology Innovation and Growth Team, IB 2025 Report
Industrial biotechnology is firmly supported by the UK government as a means of developing less carbon intensive products and processes. It poses a significant opportunity for the UK’s chemical sector to maintain and increase its competitiveness through the development of efficient and sustainable ways of satisfying our chemical and material needs.
We are always interested in hearing from potential partners for collaborative opportunities in the industrial biotechnology field.
Backed by an extensive patent base and industry knowledge, we often work with our customers on collaborative projects to deliver market-changing opportunities. Our commercial team works with brand owners and their converters to realise their ambitions.
We have a comprehensive range of lab facilities that allow us to test material performance and run pilot manufacturing and application tests on prototype products. Our bioplastics are considered the ‘best-in-the-market’ for use on conventional processing equipment, but we encourage our customers to work with our support team on their first production run.