Imperial College London

Biodegradable plastics startup Polymateria secures $100 million deal

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Faith Ly from Polymateria in the lab

Polymateria, a startup based at Imperial’s White City Campus, has secured a near $100 million agreement with Taiwan's Formosa Plastics.

The multimillion-dollar deal (€85.3 million) will see Polymateria’s additive being added to Formosa's products during the manufacturing process. 

Our mission to develop more credible and scalable scientific solutions to address the world's plastic pollution pandemic has benefitted hugely from being part of Imperial’s ecosystem. Niall Dunne Chief Executive Officer of Polymateria

Polymateria has pioneered innovative “biotransformation” technology that alters the properties of plastic to make it biodegradable in nature. Their technology enables plastic packaging waste such as takeaway containers, disposable cups and packaging to be digested naturally by microbes and decompose. 

Most biodegradable or compostable plastics do not break down outside of industrial composting facilities and leave behind harmful microplastics. Polymateria's plastic breaks down in as little as 226 days for polyethylene-based products, and 336 days for polypropylene ones, leaving no microplastics behind. 

“Fugitive plastic” 

Polymateria's products are also recyclable, enhancing their environmental benefit.  

The company focuses on what they call “fugitive plastic” - waste material that isn’t usually recycled and so often is disposed of in a landfill -such a carrier bags and bubble wrap. This waste accounts for almost a third of all plastic produced, and as much as 80% of it ends up in oceans.  

Helping startups to grow and develop 

Founded in 2015, the company is based in the Translation & Innovation Hub (I-HUB) at White City, one of the Campus’ flagship buildings. A focal-point for White City’s deep-science and tech ecosystem, the building provides office and laboratory space for businesses, start-ups and entrepreneurs alongside Imperial’s extensive network of researchers, academics and other corporate partners. 

Imperial's Translation & Innovation Hub

Before moving to their own space, Polymateria was the first company to join Imperial’s White City Incubator which provides space as well as an incubation programme and entrepreneurial training to help startup companies grow and develop. 

Chief executive officer of Polymateria Niall Dunne said: “Our mission to develop more credible and scalable scientific solutions to address the world's plastic pollution pandemic has benefitted hugely from being part of Imperial’s ecosystem. The Molecular Sciences Research Hub in particular have been instrumental in propelling us forward with the support of talented PhDs, leading edge facilities and world-renowned professors.” 

Reporter

Joanna Wilson

Joanna Wilson
Communications Division

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Contact details

Tel: +44 (0)20 7594 3970
Email: joanna.wilson@imperial.ac.uk

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White-City-Campus, Entrepreneurship, Comms-strategy-Entrepreneurial-ecosystem, Enterprise, Climate-change
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