Biome Bioplastics to develop a new range of biodegradable plastic tree shelters

November 2020
Biome Bioplastics to develop a new range of biodegradable plastic tree shelters

We have secured approximately £59k of funding from the Government-backed Innovate UK agency to develop and test a new generation of biodegradable tree shelters made from our bioplastics.

Tree shelters are used to protect young trees and bushes from predation by animals and are well-proven to limit losses in the first 5-7 years of a tree’s life. However, the majority are never collected at the end of their operational life. As they are traditionally made from oil-based, non-biodegradable plastics, they end up littering landscapes with large and small pieces of plastic. Plans to significantly increase tree planting as part of the UK’s push to net-zero emissions are expected to exacerbate this problem further.

This project is being undertaken in conjunction with Suregreen, a leading manufacturer of tree shelters and draws on advice from Dr Robert Elias of the Biocomposites team at the University of Bangor. The project has received funding from Innovate UK’s Sustainable Innovation Fund, that seeks to demonstrate the impact and potential of a clean growth-led recovery from COVID-19 and transition to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions.

Together with Suregreen, we will develop and manufacture prototypes of a novel bio-based, biodegradable tree shelter as part of the Innovate UK feasibility project. These shelters will be designed to protect growing trees, not hinder growth as trees reach maturity and biodegrade if not collected at end of life. The prototypes will initially be subjected to laboratory testing in accelerated ageing conditions before extensive field testing.

Our technical lead on this project is Gaelle Cavalie, a young female scientist who was recently recognised in Packaging Innovations’ “30 under 30” list. The competition celebrates young packaging industry professionals with the greatest potential to become the next generation of industry leaders.

Paul Mines, Biome Bioplastics’ CEO, commented:

This project is an exciting step towards supporting tree planting in a sustainable manner. Approximately 15 million tree shelters are already used in the UK each year and we are delighted to help Suregreen re-invent a product for this sector.”

John Warner, Suregreen’s Managing Director, added:

“We’re really excited to be working with an industry-leading company such as Biome Bioplastics to explore practical ways of utilising the latest bioplastic materials for the benefit of the environment, the climate and the world. We know what essential features and attributes a tree shelter should have through the development of our existing Vigilis range and look forward to applying that knowledge to this new type of tree shelter, which will facilitate the huge tree planting programs that our future demands.”

Innovate UK Executive Chair Dr Ian Campbell added:

“In these difficult times we have seen the best of British business innovation. The pandemic is not just a health emergency but one that impacts society and the economy. Biome Bioplastics’ innovative biodegradable tree shelter project, along with every initiative Innovate UK has supported through this fund, is an important step forward in driving sustainable economic development. Each one is also helping to realise the ambitions of hard-working people.”