Monday, July 16, 2018

WHEN A BUSINESS IN THE PITS IS GOOD NEWS

    Here, we like to profile good men doing good things: this includes men who work with their minds. And so, we heard the story this week of Scott Munguia, who started a biochemical company while still a student at Mexico's Technologica de Monterrey in 2012. The company has now grown to global export of a truly revolutionary product. 


    Munguia, who was studying chemical engineering, discovered that avocado pits---a waste product in most of Mexico---contained a chemical substance related one employed in synthetic plastics. After a year and a half of research, Munguia succeeded in isolating the molecular component. He then succeeded in creating a new polymer which could be extruded by machines already producing synthetic plastics. 

     The truly revolutionary aspect of Munguia's discovery is that the avocado-based plastic is 100% biodegradable. Synthetic plastics take decades to decompose, while the new plastic completely decomposes in approximately 8 months. The potential of this new product lured investors; and in 2015, Munguia opened his first factory in the city of Morelia in Michoacan, Mexico. 


    The company had a huge success selling drinking straws and has since expanded into disposable tableware and plastic bags. They also will do custom orders for companies with a need for specialized one-time use plastics. 

     Another great advantage to the avocado-based plastic is that, unlike other biodegradable plastics, it is produced entirely from organic waste material. In the US and China, some similar plastics are made from corn. But corn has far greater need as a foodstuff, which also makes the cost of corn-based plastics prohibitive. Biofase's plastic uses only the pits of the fruit, which have very little widespread uses otherwise.

      Biofase's chief product is still drinking straws, accounting for 40% of its total output. 80% of its total market is export, which has significantly boosted the local economy. The US and Canada are the main consumers, though the company has made export inroads into Colombia, Peru, and Costa Rica. 

      Our anti-male culture in the US sneers at scientists and technicians as nerds, and geeks. Nobody's laughing at Manguia anymore. And his story should inspire all those who seek to enrich our lives with their ideas and efforts. It's an interesting side-story that John Huntsman, Sr. (who died last February at age 90 and wealthy) had a personal history not unlike Manguia's. Huntsman discovered the technology that Manguia has improved upon; and he too started from poverty and did his own research. 

     Any businessmen interested in Biofase's products can find them at their website.

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