The sweet side of the eco-bottle
Can packaging protect our climate? Somehow, this sounds far-fetched. But we at Biogena have always been up for a challenge.
Look at this bottle.
It’s aesthetically pleasing, food safe, plastic-free – and made from sugar. From sugar? How can that work? And who would want to eat a bottle? (Although please do not try that!). And why doesn’t the packaging melt when it gets wet?
It is a fascinating transformation: and some aspects of it have to be explained in detail. So, here we go. You can see a beautiful plant before you. Her name is Saccharum officinarum, but she is more commonly known as sugarcane.
Have you ever heard of the term white gold? In the 16th century, it was a common term for sugar, because the sweet, crystalline substance used to be very expensive and hardly anyone could afford it. And that although everything went haywire in the alchemists’ kitchens. But it seems that the magicians were often blinkered – especially in their search for the philosopher’s stone, which was supposed to turn metal into gold.
Alas, that formula has not been discovered yet. But our partner Braskem has come up with an even better one, which cannot be compared to gold. Turning sugarcane into plastic is no ordinary idea, but here it is. Its name: Green PE. Its characteristics: robust, recyclable, and a trend-setter in terms of sustainability at every stage of its life-cycle.
If there is one thing that sugarcane is extremely good at, it is capturing CO2 from the air. The plant is better at this than almost any other. And once it has been turned into plastic, the CO2 can no longer escape.
But there is even more to it, as energy efficiency plays a major role in this transformation: the fibrous part of the sugarcane, which is called bagasse, is an excellent biofuel and provides us with the precious green electricity that enables us to keep things running.
Scientists have measured the performance of this plastic:
on average, each kilogram equates to a 2.15 kg reduction of CO2 in the atmosphere1 - as long as you do one more thing.
It is impressive how we are able to come full circle:
Sugarcane captures CO2 from the atmosphere, plastic retains it. And when the time comes, it can be recycled, meaning that the CO2 stays where it belongs. You see, this product means something. And what better fit is there for a sustainable product than sustainable packaging?
In any case, our supplements get the home that they have always wanted. Some of them have moved in already, and by early 2016, we will have adapted our whole range. The eco-bottle will fulfil its destiny, and will help save over 100 tons of CO2 each year.
Back to the roots - and back to cheese
Do you know what the world’s first plastic was made of? Cheese. Art and nature have been harmonious partners for a long time. And for anyone who wants to follow in these alchemistic footsteps, you can find the formula for it here. A Benedictine monk called Wolfgang Seidel got hold of it in the year 1531 and wrote it down.
Take some goat's cheese or low-fat cheese and cut it into pieces. Put them into a cauldron and add water. Leave it to simmer for a whole day... then take it from the fire. Let it cool down until the viscous substance settles. Then pour away the white milk-like substance that floats on top. Keep what remains on the bottom and add hot water. Let it simmer again for a while and stir, so that the white substance settles. Repeat until nothing white remains. A substance, tough as horn, will remain on the bottom. As it becomes transparent, it is comparable ... to curd. Then take warm lye... and add the purified substance to it. Press it into a mould while it is warm. As soon as you have done this, put the mould with the substance into cold water. That is how it becomes hard as bone and finely transparent. But take note: if you want to mould and form the substance to your taste, you have to do it while it is still warm. This way, it can be bent like paste. If it is moulded already, you can still work on and handle it - no damage will be done. But as soon as it cools down, you have to leave it be. The substance does not tolerate bending, but shatters like glass and can be dyed like other bones... This... art has been entrusted to me by the honourable man Bartholomäus Schobinger, citizen of St. Gallen in Switzerland.