We can proudly report that we have been nominated for this year's World Wildlife Fund (WWF) award called "Climate Solver." We're in the running with 11 other Nordic companies with eco innovations. WWF will give the prize to the companies it deems demonstrate the greatest potential for environmental benefit and for establishing itself internationally. You can read more about the award requisites on the WWF website, but one fits hemp fibers well: "The solution is not based on fossil fuels or nuclear power but aligns with a resources and energy efficient transition towards a circular economy fueled by 100% renewable energy." WWF's press release outlines the other prong, saying the solution "must also be in an early commercial phase and its potential climate benefit must be considered by WWF to be the largest among current Nordic startups." To receive such a confirmation, from no less a prestigious organization than WWF, is enormous. The winner will be announced on Cleantech Capital Day on May 22 in Malmo.
Ignore for a moment that ubiquitous plastic plays a role in global environmental crises, littering oceans and leaching chemicals into the ground. An uncomfortable bottom line is that there are no alternatives to plastic if our Western economies want to grow and develop at the rate and in the manner they have for decades. And that’s not to mention the fact that the mechanical qualities of plastic can be argued to drastically reduce the environmental impact of our consumer society. Plastic makes products lighter for transportation. Its cheap production results in energy savings compared with other materials. In the high volume food industries it helps keep veggies and meat fresh longer. And many plastics are able to be recycled over and over again where other materials quickly degrade. The chair of the Swedish Plastic Industry Association (Svensk Plastindustriförening), Leif Nilsson makes sales points that are difficult to argue with: “The rule of thumb is that plastic uses only about 30 percent as much material as you’d need with other materials. With glass or metal, the weight of products shoots up and so do transportation emissions and costs. Cars and airplanes suffer more wear and tear and use more fuel. Then, of course, there are areas where plastic is more or less irreplaceable because of its mechanical qualities and moldability.” Hmm… electronics, computers, mobile phones? And those gadgets might be argued to afford us a long list of “soft” environmental benefits through increased knowledge sharing and connectivity. Just all to say that a greener plastic like Trifilon BioLite™ is an even better idea than you thought!
While a few years old, the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation's (Naturskyddsföreningen) Plastic Report (Plastrapport) was spot on when defining the three overall challenges facing plastics today: exposure to chemicals used in manufacturing, a global nature conservation problem, and the fact that the main ingredient is crude oil. Using greener plastics, and biocomposites in particular, can reduce the world’s dependence on fossil fuels drastically. A market analysis from the EU, which Trifilon participated in, estimates that a transition to biological raw materials and processing methods can save 2.5 billion tons of CO2 per year by 2030. That same analysis predicts that the European market for bio-based raw materials and new consumer products will explode. Even the global market is expected to increase, at an average of 11 percent per year, according to Businesswire. Obviously, the destination is greener goods for all - so give us a call if you want to be part of the solution.
Electric car producer Uniti also shares our view that manufacturers can and should lead the way in developing greener consumer cultures. Despite the fact that the car industry accounts for nearly 9 percent of plastic consumption in Europe, recycling rules and practice are lacking to say the least. But Uniti has shown interest in using Trifilon’s BioLite and BioForm for components in their cars. We’ve floated the idea of “leasing” plastic materials to the car manufacturer. That’s not a profit scheme. Rather it would mean we would be responsible for repurposing the material after it is used. “We could definitely take back BioLite and BioForm panels and, for example, up-cycle them into new grades of our injecting molding material,” said Trifilon’s Jermiah Dutton. “If this partnership is finalized, we would have a sustainable, circular stream of plastic materials in our cars. It would reduce waste, for one. And with increasing depreciation costs, this gives us major economic benefits,” said Tim Unerman, Head of Composites at Uniti.
The UK's 2019 departure from the EU is estimated to leave a gaping 13-billion Euro hole in the EU budget. What to do? The BBC reported that the EU is seriously considering a tax on plastic packaging to make up some of the shortfall. The European Commission will deliberate whether that tax is incurred at production, use, or disposal. While the massive revenue stream is the impetus for such a move, the enormous environmental merits are also key to the tax's proponents. Such a tax would incentivize companies to rethink packaging and consumers to reduce waste. It's a step towards the goals laid out in this draft manifesto from the EU about plastics in the circular economy (or similarly the Ellen MacArthur Foundation initiative the New Plastics Economy). One possible future we're contemplating -Trifilon only "rents" plastic out to manufacturers. More on that in the coming months.
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.