Plastics will be replaced within ten years by biomaterials that eliminate waste and pollution, according to Cyrill Gutsch, founder of Parley for the Oceans, organization dedicated to the conservation of the world's oceans.
In the future, Gutsch says, natural substances such as algae, bacteria, enzymes and proteins will be used to grow materials that will replace plastics. Biofabrication "will replace virtually everything". “I believe the future is about non-toxic materials. Only in this way can the circular economy really be made. I think biofabrication will virtually replace everything in the next 10 years. "
Until now, Parley for the Oceans has mainly focused on the problem of plastic pollution by finding new uses for waste material such as shoes and sunglasses. Among the latest initiatives, the one in collaboration with Adidas to create Ocean Plastic footwear.
But recycling is not a solution
However, Gutsch believes that recycling is not a long-term solution. “It's just a patch, and it's just for a transition from an old technology to a new one. The idea of the circular economy will never really work with the materials we have, ”he added.
I really think he's right. No circular economy is possible with materials such as plastic, because they can never be manufactured and recycled without harmful side effects.
Biofabrication involves the use of cells, proteins and other natural elements as building blocks to “grow” the materials; while green chemistry it involves the use of scientific processes to develop materials that do not produce toxic waste or during their manufacture nor during their disposal and reuse.
We can do things in a completely different way. It will take around 10 years to perfect new processes and up to 20 years to scale them. From companies that use enzymes to produce materials with plastic-like properties, to those that use proteins to create new materials, the world is always preparing for tomorrow.
“I've seen amazing things based on proteins,” Gutsch said, referring to a company that has developed ways to turn molecules into tissue. “I can't talk about it. They made cashmere better than real cashmere, but they can also turn it into regular polyester or wool. They can make skin out of it. ". Something similar to what other companies, like this one, are trying to achieve for example from mushrooms.
He said the process, which remains confidential, does not involve adding secondary materials such as plastics to improve performance, meaning the material can be harmlessly broken down after use.