Organic waste

Organic waste

Compostable biomaterials

ComposTerra works towards a circular economy to create a clean and healthy environment and use materials sustainably. Their mission is to extend the journey of organic waste materials by transforming them into functional products. ComposTerra sources organic waste streams and turns them into valuable products with a variety of applications. ComposTerra’s goal is to identify the inherent value of a waste stream, develop a useful application and then scale it in collaboration with a SME partner. In short, ComposTerra reduces the amount of food waste going to compost or residual waste by turning it into great products.

Currently, the team is exploring producing alternatives to plastic products, such as flower pots and coffee takeaway cups. ComposTerra tackles several aspects of the ecological crisis humanity currently faces. Plastic pollution is a major threat not only to ecosystems but also to human health. Microplastics have been found in the most remote locations as well as in many of our foods. This exposes us to a higher risk of developing cancer and other negative health consequences that are yet to be fully determined. While pollution can be tackled with better waste collection infrastructure, the limited nature of our planet’s resources is a given. Therefore it is vital to find circular solutions that end our dependency on raw and virgin materials. Our contemporary packaging system relies on fossil fuels, a limited and highly destructive resource. ComposTerra aims to develop compostable, non-plastic and bio-based packaging solutions.

By combining the materials with pressed flowers or laser-cutting techniques beautiful decorational items can be achieved, such as coasters or wall tiles.

The making process of these biomaterials started from the open-source Beyond Plastic project, who developed a biopress machine to press organic materials into sturdy shapes. The materials are dried and pressed into shapes under high temperatures. By pressing organic materials such as wheat bran under high temperatures, the fibres interlink to form a sturdy material. By using different input materials and production variables, different material characteristics are achieved, such as smoothness, brittleness, and visual textures. ComposTerra's main activity is research and development, including a team of researchers that investigate various mixtures of organic inputs and treatments. They test the qualities of the resulting materials and search for recipes that fulfil product-specific requirements.

Since the material is made of pressed organic material and is not plastic, products are fully compostable in nature and naturally hydrophilic. Hence, to create functional products that need to be water repellent, a coating needs to be added.

ComposTerra wants to give back to the community, which is why we aim to host workshops and share information open source so that more clever minds can work towards a circular future.

ComposTerra is currently in the proof of concept phase. The company is developing prototypes by trying various combinations of organic materials in our biopress-process. For now, the main focus lies on non-food items, mostly plant pots since they come with lower requirements than food-safe packaging. ComposTerra envisions starting a local pilot production in 2022, creating a circular material stream in the city by transforming organic waste streams into usable products locally. In the long term, ComposTerra will continue R&D activities to find more versatile and better performing biomaterials from organic waste which can be used in an increasing variety of industries/areas.

Additional information

Homogenous organic waste streams are collected and dried. The dry materials are pressed into a shape using aluminum moulds, under high pressure and temperature.

Ingredients

Coffee waste, tea waste, orange peels, wheat bran

Maker

ComposTerra

References

ComposTerra Video at Science Discovery Museum (Video)
ComposTerra's entry at NoWaste (Article)

Credits

Beyond Plastic (Precious Plastic Global)

Photo credits

ComposTerra