Just as the piles of consumer plastic grow over the holidays, so too are the number of investors who want to get rid of it. The Trifilon team now has 41 shareholders, all from a broad range of industries and market segments. Our Nyköping neighbor, Sörmlandsfonden (the "Södermanlands Fund") is one of the 30 investors that joined during our last investment round. Thomas Karlsson, VD at Sörmlandsfonden, explained, "It was the combination of a climate-smart product, which has great business potential, and driven and down-to-earth entrepreneurs, that made our decision. We are confident they will create growth in our region". Keeping with the Christmas theme, Trifilon has been introduced to four angels from the fund's investment network. "Investment in Trifilon is smart both business-wise and environment-wise," said Claes Mellgren, one of the four angels, in a press realease. Thanks for the early Christmas present.
According to a new study from Unilever a third of consumers are now choosing to buy from brands they believe are doing social or environmental good. Just as Trendwatching.com said, "the eco-friendliness of your products is now assumed". Perhaps that's why our consumer guilt during a stressful Christmas season is growing every year. According to Sky Ocean Resque's survey a quarter of the respondents said they are going to be too busy to worry about how much plastic they use during the holidays (not to mention what ends up in the trash). The good news is that green demand is nudging suppliers in the right direction. They're getting better and better at delivering the social-/eco- goodness people crave. So if you're stressed and need a last minute tip, we'll un-guiltily pitch the PhantomBIO from EPIC, a travel bag made from BioLite. It is now conveniently available at Åhlens, Accent, and your local luggage shop.
Trifilon is set to begin a 2 year research project together with 11 public and private partners investigating how to use waste streams from hospitals – like the fabrics used for bed linens – to produce polymer composites. Together with RISE, Swerea IVF, Region Uppsala, Västra Götalandsregionen, Region Skåne and Mölnlycke Healthcare, the project aims to dive into the mountain of used hospital textiles that is produced each and every day. The question: can we divert old bed sheets from the incinerator and instead use them to reinforce another useful material? And the key is to make it of consistent quality. Hopefully, our expertise in integrating strong, lightweight plant fibers in a polymer mix will be useful. One benefit of the textile waste stream is that it's fairly regular. With 60 000 tons of used hospital textiles generated each year, the opportunity is clear. The +5M SEK project has been given the green light for funding by Vinnova, which helps finance such circular economy initiatives.
Award news: First, as part of a productive trip to this year's Elmia Subcontractor - the trade fair in Northern Europe if your business is manufacturing - we made the finals for a "plastovation" award in the environmental category. This was our second nomination for an award at Elmia. Trifilon's BioLite unfortunately lost to a recycled PET surf leash and a solar unit made from recycled plastics that captures heat from the sun to warm water. Kudos to them. There's always next year for us. Second, we earned a third place in the "entrepreneur of the future" contest given by investment bank Carnegie and daily newspaper Svenska Dagbladet. That's out of a few hundred possible companies. Great publicity and a big thumbs up for Trifilon's mission and sustainable, lightweight materials.
Our friend Richard Blume, a sustainability adviser for The Natural Step, tipped us to news about a UN meeting slated for December to issue a formal political declaration that pollution – including air and water contamination – is one of the major health and ecological problems facing the globe. There wasn’t one already? The UN rally call is "beat pollution."
That cause might sound gigantic and unfocused, but Richard says big-picture declarations are important in raising awareness and commitment to solutions, especially given the latest research on how significant global pollution really is. A recent landmark scientific study finds toxic air, water, soils and workplaces kill at least 9m people and cost trillions of dollars every year and is a threat to the very future of human societies.
Companies need to understand the scale of the problem but the focus shouldn't just be about responding to new legislation outlawing this or that chemical often years too late. With the right tools and insight, companies can unlock growing business opportunities that contribute to a more circular and sustainable economy. One example Richard offers, “Waste material is piling up, and we need be much smarter at collecting and reusing it. This is harder to do if the wrong substances are allowed to enter the material stream and we need to also consider all the different forms of emissions from production and consumption. So if we are truly going to #beat pollution, then the overall goal should be to design better products and to think about the full life cycle using sustainability principles so that waste and pollution are avoided altogether. That’s our focus at The Natural Step.”
Elmia Subcontractor - Scandinavia's largest industrial trade expo. What an experience! With visitors and exhibitors from 29 different countries, it was a fantastic 4 days of meeting designers, engineers, manufacturers and hundreds of students that were all keenly interested in sustainability, lightweight design and new materials. We're already looking forward to next year!
We had visitors from Södermanlands Nyheter, the regional newspaper, to our test plant in Nyköping. There's an article on the website now. Unfortunately it has a pay gate, but you can see this nifty pic of Martin puzzling out an answer.
Carnegie investment bank has posted an interview with Trifilon co-founder Martin Lidstrand. Trifilon was named one of four finalists, selected by judges at newspaper SvD and Carnegie, for the "framtidens entreprenör" selection. Read what Martin thinks were Trifilon's most decisive decisions as well as the company's humble beginnings in a Stockholm basement.
Trifilon is one of four finalists in the naming of the “Entrepreneur of the Future” by newspaper Svenska Dagbladet and investment bank Carnegie. You can click the link to vote for us (even though we're not sure it does any good, seeing as we've already been named a finalist by the judges). Also, see a video of Martin giving a 15-second presentation, here. And share on Facebook if you're extra nice.
We won an award! A campaign to explore new material technologies in China selected Trifilon and three other companies out of 60. It’s part of a from-the-Nordics showcase of manufacturing innovation, and we were told by an ambassador in China that we were the only company presented at an incubator trade fair in Shanghai. The award comes from an organization called SHFTZ, a gear in the larger effort to develop domestic manufacturing innovation called “Made in China 2025,” which has gotten some media attention in the West. The gargantuan potential in Chinese markets for consumer goods, automotive parts, and packaging, to name a few, is no secret. How to find a viable path to entry and operation in China isn’t always so obvious. But one in the long list of goals of the “Made in China” initiative is to drastically increase organic materials in domestic manufacturing, and fast. So “Made in China” hopes to offer schemes by which foreign tech firms partner with domestic players and money
Take a look at Trifilon’s Jeremiah Dutton giving a polished pitch at the Ecosummit Stockholm 2017 using the measured tones and pregnant pauses of a TED talk to tell why our business is poised to make a splash. If you’re interested in investment opportunities, please get in touch. Our new contracts mean we’re currently looking to expand and seeking the right partners to help us reach our goals.
Trifilon has signed a five-year exclusivity deal with EPIC Travelgear, a sign the luggage manufacturer thinks that a Trifilon tag on their bags can give them an edge in the Nordic market. EPIC's CEO Johan Närstad had this to say about the commitment: “Trifilon’s environmental mission and their business values resonated with us. And we want to see where we can take this partnership, producing exclusive, sustainable luggage.” We are happy to oblige. Last week we finished delivering our 3rd shipment of BioLite to EPIC for 2017. How much CO2 is sequestered by the hemp in that shipment? We count 903 kilograms of carbon dioxide trapped by the hemp in EPIC’s new PhantomBIO cabin bags.
We’re set to begin delivery of BioPhon™ for the construction of a building for Nyköpings Högstadium, a middle school that bills itself as “Sweden’s most interesting school.” We especially like this contract because BioPhon™ can improve indoor environments (and thus health conditions for kids) in two important ways: by reducing decibel levels and doing so without unhealthy particulates in the air. We will start deliveries to the construction project this fall, put into motion by Nyköping Municipality where we currently have our production facilities. BioPhon™ was an easy choice to fulfill contract specifications for natural fiber-based sound protection that is produced locally.
Construction giant Skanska seems to like our BioPhon acoustic treatment, if progress in their competition called the Deep Green Challenge is any indication. We’ve been told that BioPhon™ has made the cut for the top 15 entries of construction innovations that would reduce climate impact. We ourselves find the technology in BioPhon™ especially exciting because, while the sound-insulating panels can be made with a blend of recycled PET and hemp fibers, we have also developed a special combination of eco-friendly hemp fibers and a bio-based binder. And that means a fully-biodegradable construction material, a rarity. Its potential for CO2 sequestration gives BioPhon™ its biggest climate credentials. But two other criteria for the challenge are that the building solution performs well and is easily adaptable to Skanska’s construction processes. Those match two of our core sustainability principles, so we like our chances to be named a finalist and win a major contract with Skanska. The announcement will be made in October.
Thinking of our collaboration with Epic Travelgear, we found this fun infographic about the evolution of luggage starting with rolling vessels for weapons in the Middle Ages and carts drawn by elephants and, later, Louis Vuitton’s 1870s “steamer trunks.” In the early 1900s an American company began bragging their bags were “hard enough to stand on.” And the collapsible tow handle was patented as late as 1994. Surely we could add that cheap and easy air travel and the development of plastics have helped fuel an exponential growth in people who want to run around sprawling airports dragging their stuff. Last year 120 million Chinese citizens traveled abroad, and there’s more to come as people there enter the middle class. How big is a mountain of 120 million suitcases at the garbage dump? The infographic even takes a look into the future. One bag climbs stairs, and another has GPS. Perhaps the biodegradable, mass-produced suitcase is next on the timeline.
Speaking of organic building materials, our new BioPhon has passed a fire ignitablity test in which the testers casually leave a smoldering cigarette on our acoustic panels and wait for it to catch fire. Why? To make sure they won’t accelerate fires in our homes. As we swap out synthetic building materials – which are often unhealthy and bad for the environment – with sustainable or organic ones, it’s important that we maintain modern safety standards. Do we lose green points because we dip BioPhon in suspicious chemicals (like the flame retardants mentioned in this NY Times article giving cats hyperthyroidism)? Our way or fire-proofing BioPhon is so not dangerous that you can eat the treatment solution. No joke.
With climate change recently on the front page, we’d like to take the time to rehearse this obvious fact: There’s big business when governments commit to lowering carbon emissions. And that’s even true for material producers like us. Our organic ingredients make us a climate-friendly choice. Hemp (or other plants) in plastic means: 1) There’s lower demand for petroleum-derived polymers; 2) New fields of hemp crops get busy soaking up and storing carbon. Read about carbon sequestration as it relates to hemp in building materials in this 2014 Guardian article.
A round-up and pics from one of the nerdiest trade fairs in the Nordics: Our stand was a surprise hit with at least 200 percent more visitors than last year thanks in part to exhibition partners Cliff Models and Composite Design. Our combined display featured a carbon-fiber car not to mention our own sleek items. Lots of visitors, including from the Czech Republic and Bangladesh, were curious about organic materials.
Will our biodegradable BioPhon™ deflect, dampen, deaden and absorb as well as the conventional stuff? The prestigious KTH (Royal Institute of Technology) is testing it. Stay tuned.
Our biocomposite acoustic panels are available to eco-minded builders and architects who want to reduce echo and reverberation inside of the living spaces that need it, like schools and offices. Our organic material is sourced in northern Europe, which cuts down on the transportation footprint. And our new BioPhon™ is better for indoor air quality as well.