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Green Whale Global supplies compostable plastic products to fashion, cosmetic industries

By Korea Herald

Published : Feb. 9, 2021 - 09:01

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(Green Whale Global) (Green Whale Global)

Green Whale Global, the first South Korean firm to produce 100 percent biodegradable plastics, has successfully supplied international and Korean clothing brands with biodegradable hardened plastics, the company said.

The clothing brands such as Recto, Nounou, and Nohant are soon to offer environmentally friendly packaging and hangers using plastics manufactured by GWG, according to the company.

GWG also said it had also signed an agreement to supply cosmetic brands with biodegradable hardened plastics to be used as cosmetic packaging.

Co-founded by Jiyoung Hwang and TK Yoon, the eco-friendly start-up, attributed the achievement to their patented technology which combines cassava starch directly with polylactic acid (one of the most common bioplastics) during compounding.

The use of cassava allows the firm to lower costs while maintaining similar characteristics with conventional plastics -- greater material strength, for example -- yet reduce its environmental footprint, the company said.

It has been traditionally difficult to manufacture hardened plastic packaging using similar starches, with firms often failing to produce consumer-grade injection molding products with bio-degradable plastics at an affordable price.

GWG obtained patents in both the US and Korea for a unique compounding technique that combines the starch directly with PLA resin to increase the starch content of their product up to 70 percent. The high starch content is one of the main reasons they are successful with a variety of plastic formation methods, especially injection molding, according to the firm.

The global bioplastic market is growing exponentially with an increased interest in finding a sustainable solution to the global plastic waste crisis. The importance of dealing with plastic pollution was brought to the fore when China banned the import of used plastics starting in 2018. This led countries across the globe to actively seek to regulate and tax plastic manufacturing to reduce the risk of microplastics in the ocean and its impact on the global food chain.

Although biodegradable plastics are considered one of the best alternatives to reduce plastic waste and oil-consumption, many experts have expressed concerns about their environmental impacts, mainly from resourcing crop materials.

GWG’s use of cassava addresses this concern and can offer a more eco-friendly choice since cassava consumes less than their substitutes such as rice or corn, the company said.

According to Korea’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, biodegradable bioplastic produces half the amount of carbon dioxide, compared to conventional plastic.

The ministry announced its plan to expand infrastructure for biodegradable plastic by providing collection routes and compost facilities. A proper waste collection system is necessary to fully integrate compostable plastic into society to ensure that the used bioplastic actually biodegrades.

Getting ahead of the game on this front, GWG also secured a contract to establish GWG’s own landfill exclusively for EL724 certified biodegradable plastic in July 2020, it said.

“This was a crucial step to complete our products’ sustainability as we emerge in the biotechnology market,” one of the co-founders Hwang said.

By The Korea Herald staff (