Many thanks to Peter Wall for organizing a Sustainable Plastics Day at Mälarplast AB yesterday. Trifilon’s Jeremiah Dutton and Elin Jacobsson got the opportunity to present Trifilon’s latest R&D project - local Sörmland’s linseed biocomposites! Eva Myrin's school lunch plate project was an awesome example of how the circular economy can start to take steps forward at a local level.
Last year our wise investors considered Trifilon worth investing 10 million SEK in. Now we can proudly announce that those same investors see potential worth filling our coffers with an additional 20 million SEK. And we have new heavyweight board members. Among those are Per-Olof Andersson, the founder and principal shareholder in the AQ group, and Per Tängerstad who among much else is a partner in CapMan Estate. Here is a small article in Swedish business publication Affärsvärlden with a pic of P.O. Andersson. Our two other new board members, Mikael Karlsson and Anders Frisk, we're also thrilled about as they bring a wealth of business experience and entrepreneur insights. Our investors are, just like us, convinced our products and our brand have what it takes to meet growing market demand for greener plastics. And we're still on schedule with the installation of our new line - 4,000 tons per year capacity!
A sustainability expert might ask us just how recyclable our biocomposites are and therefore if they represent the best foot forward for their product. The argument is that organic additives, in our case hemp or flax, can “taint” waste streams lowering the quality of reused materials. We are, however, fairly certain that our hemp and flax-based biocomposites would cause no problems in recycled plastic applications. The polymers we use are tested and the amounts of bio material in larger recycling streams would, initially, barely register. That all means that those concerns can hardly outweigh the immediate sustainability merits of including and supporting a plant-based renewable feedstock industry in large-scale material productions. Unfortunately, many countries don’t even recycle plastics. In those cases any bio-based material is a benefit. Considering just the hypothetical reusability of biocomposite material by itself is tough because the technology is new enough that there are no long-term durability studies. But a smart hunch is that the hemp additives, with especially good UV-resistance properties, will prove durable when used again. And we’re going to help prove it. In the picture you’ll see our DIY test. It’s 60 samples of a variety of grades – up to 30 percent biobased, recycled, fully biobased, fully biodegradable – attached to a wooden frame and placed on the roof of our six-story Stockholm office building. They’ll be subjected to dark-cold-wet Novembers, ice-cold Februaries, and hot-humid-sunny Julies. We’ll check in periodically to see how well the various grades are doing and whether we can still melt them down and reform them after sitting on the roof. And we’ll brag to you about the results. Place your bets. Forward science!
Speaking of politics, on a hot summer Wednesday we received a visit from Swedish Minister for Higher Education and Research Helene Hellmark Knutsson. On a trip to Nyköping, Knutsson visited the Trifilon plant to inquire about how a business grounded in sustainable technology had found qualified staff and if there was anything to be desired in the gap between education on sustainability issues and real-life industrial expertise. Not any more, answered Trifilon’s co-founder Martin Lidstrand, who informed the minister, her media staff, and Södermanland local politician Urban Granström who put together the minister’s visit, that Trifilon’s location in Södermanland gave them close access to the knowledge-pool in Stockholm and set them apart from the seat of plastic industry in Sweden located in Stenungsund. Lidstrand mentioned the sustainability/student staffing agency Sustainergies in particular. Martin also explained that the interest in Trifilon had come because of a delayed response by major manufacturers to develop sustainable material technologies using renewable feedstocks, a gap Trifilon can fill. A reporter and photographer for Södermanlands Nyheter also visited for an article in Swedish. Knutsson also heard about Trifilon’s size and future potential, and she asked if Martin had anything she should bring back to the government. Martin gave her BioLite granulates and a bag of Södermanland flax.
This is big news: The large plastics and rubber distributor Erteco will start offering Trifilon's BioLite as a sustainable-choice plastic intended for injection molding. Erteco says more and more of its customers are requesting green alternatives. In fact, they got in touch with us after one of their customers requested a green-choice polyolefin, the class of plastics most commonly used in injection molding. We at Trifilon see this collaboration – a major materials supplier sticking a Nordic biocomposite in their catalogue – as an important step in the long journey to making the production of consumer goods more sustainable. And Erteco can put Trifilon’s eco-minded materials alongside conventional polymers because it performs without the problems associated with other biocomposites. It’s the easiest first step.
Last week, Trifilon's Jeremiah Dutton visited one of Sweden’s largest penitentiaries in Kumla (which has a supermax) to speak with Tobias Hindorf, the production coordinator there who manages an injection molding operation where inmates work. Not many people know that inmates at Kumla produce a lot of their everyday items, from beds to spatulas, right inside the prison. They also make a few items for dogs including toys that they produce for a local brand. Tobias told us they currently use a biocomposite material made from wood chips, but that it didn’t perform so well in certain products he wants to branch into, like clothes hangers. Trifilon to the rescue. “We were very happy about the results. It’s got a nice soft touch,” said Tobias.
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.