A company with the unabashed aim "to replace all petroleum-based plastic with plants" expects to begin manufacturing its compostable material soon at its first plant, in North Carolina.
Two young entrepreneurs have developed what they claim is the most sustainable, lowest-cost, completely compostable "drop-in" plastic replacement, sourced from the abundant supply of agricultural residues — mainly rice hulls.
Their company is called PlantSwitch Inc., and they plan to start compounding, extruding and cutting pellet material in Sanford, N.C., early next year. The firm now has 14 full-time employees. By the end of 2024, they expect to employ 50 and be turning out 50 million pounds of pellets annually.
But that's just the beginning, thanks to the rapidly growing bioplastics market. Global bioplastics production is expected to grow from about 4.9 billion pounds (2.23 million metric tons) in 2022 to almost 13.9 billion pounds (6.3 million tonnes) in 2027, according to Berlin-based trade group European Bioplastics e.V.
PlantSwitch co-founders Dillon Baxter, 26, and Maxime Blandin, 29, are already looking ahead to the day when the 52,000-square-foot Sanford facility becomes the company's research and development hub and they are able to open larger resin manufacturing sites in the United States and overseas. That process could begin by the end of next year with the help of investors, Baxter said recently by phone.
"We expect to max out this facility rather quickly," he added.