Mango Materials is a woman-founded start-up that produces bioplastic from methane through a process called methane fermentation. Waste methane gas undergoes a microbial process forming PHA or Polyhydroxylalkanoate biopolymer pellets.
These pellets are completely biodegradable, readily compostable, and fully customizable, which enables them to be converted into a wide range of biodegradable plastic products.
How does a gas transform into plastic?
PHA is a family of bio-polyesters that can be produced naturally by bacteria and other forms of life. Through the process of methane fermentation, the bacteria convert methane into useful forms. Ancient bacteria called Methanotrophs are utilized by Mango Materials for the production of PHA.
Once the methane is fed to the bacteria, they produce PHA and store it in their cell walls. This PHA is extracted and then converted into pellets called YOPP PHA pellets. In this form, they are available for easy use by the plastic industry. YOPP stands for “You Oust Polluting Plastics”, by opting for companies like Mango Materials.
Where is the methane collected from?
Methane is a byproduct of many essential operations. Cow farms, landfills, and wastewater treatment plants are all sources of methane. The factories of Mango Materials are co-located near these methane production facilities for easy access to the raw material.
Utility of YOPP PHA
Using biobased PHA polymers to make plastic products is much more beneficial to the environment rather than synthetic polymers. YOPP PHA pellets can integrate into many conventional plastic chains to produce biodegradable versions of conventional plastic items.
They are currently used in injection molding (caps, jars, small packaging), fibers (shoes, backpacks, rope), films, and other plastic substitute applications.
Are Mango Materials PHA pellets biodegradable?
YOPP PHA pellets are both biobased and biodegradable. In the natural environment, it completely biodegrades to become part of the environment. These pellets can be consumed by microorganisms and leaves no traces of microplastics or microfibers. In a marine environment, they degrade in around 6 weeks.
If the YOPP pellets end up in landfills, wastewater treatment plants, etc. they can also be recaptured as methane, thus forming a closed-loop.
Tackling climate change and plastic pollution
Methane is a potent greenhouse gas that is about 28 times more powerful at warming the Earth than carbon dioxide. 20% of global warming since the industrial revolution can be attributed to this gas. Without measures to control methane emissions, there will be a global emission increase of about 30% by 2050.
Mango Materials converts this harmful methane gas into utilizable plastic. This locks away the methane into products that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere. As methane is abundantly available, using it as a feedstock is a low-cost and highly scalable process.
Biopolymers are essential to protecting the environment. Using biobased biodegradable plastic pellets reduce plastic pollution. Hence, Mango Materials addresses both issues of climate change and plastic pollution with one solution.