Polish company Biotrem points way to waste-free disposables

Polish brand Biotrem is looking to set an example in the development of waste-free technology with its invention of wheat-bran dishes and cutlery. The dishes are made entirely of vegetable products, are edible and fully biodegradable in just 30 days. This is great news to environmentalists, given that widely used petroleum-based plastic dishes and cutlery take at least 500 years – or even longer – to degrade. 

Owner Jerzy Wysocki’s family has been involved in milling for over 100 years, managing mills in both Giżycko and Zambrów. Bran, the waste product of wheat production, constitutes up to a third of the weight of grain and Wysocki soon became aware of its potential. After five to six years of development, and an investment of five million euros, Biotrem was born. 

The development of Biotrem is taking place in two phases. The first is experimenting with developing materials from the waste products of  corn, carrots and even seaweed. The second phase involves implementing and testing these ideas to ensure they are constantly evolving to be the most efficient and environmentally friendly. 

The dishes and cutlery are currently used for both hot and cold foods at home, festivals and restaurants, and are even being tested in Polish IKEA outlets. Stored in suitable conditions, the dishes and cutlery can last for approximately three years and cost around 0.50 euros a dish and 0.14 euros for cutlery. 

The EU ban on the sale of disposable products, set to be enforced from 2021, is a nod in the right direction for Biotrem as the commercialisation of the industry is bringing in future investors. Presently, the industry is estimated to be worth 12 billion euros at global value, yet with the current trend, this is expected to double over the next decade. Currently, the company is mainly supported by national and EU investment programs. 

CEO Małgorzata Then has told that the future for Biotrem technology is bright.

“Currently, around 167 million tons of wheat bran is produced in the world every year. Theoretically, you can produce about 1.6 trillion pieces of disposable tableware from this. According to loose estimates, this is more than the entire global demand for such products. Thanks to our technology, in principle, we could solve the problem of plastic waste practically overnight.”

According to Then, Biotrem primarily exports to Europe but is involved with more than 40 markets globally. The major production plant for the company is currently in Zambrów, but big expansions lie ahead. In the next five years, the company plans to expand to the Americas, Asia and Australia and to deliver to major retailers around the world. There is also the possibility of agreements with large mills to allow for practically unlimited access to their raw-material waste products.