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PHA 101: What They Are & How They’re Made Through Green Engineering

PHA 101: What They Are & How They’re Made Through Green Engineering

Polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) is our bread and butter, and we produce PHA through green engineering, using food waste like bread crust and oil.

As more Fortune 500 companies are committing to plastic reduction in the coming years, bioplastics, and especially PHA, are generating interest as an alternative to petroleum-based plastic.

But what is PHA? And why are people only talking about it now?

What are PHA plastics

Mother Nature’s microorganisms have been producing PHA granules well before the 1980s when scientists first discovered the capabilities of PHA as a plastic alternative. It’s impossible to know exactly when these microorganisms started producing PHA, but it’s pretty safe to say they’ve been producing PHA for millions of years.

Here’s a high level look at PHA production:

Bacteria need carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus to feel comfortable to reproduce.

If the bacteria run out of phosphorus, they can no longer make DNA, and in turn, no longer increase their population. They’re starved for phosphorus, but rich with carbon.

Similar to a camel storing fat in its hump when food is scarce, the bacteria store this carbon for a rainy day.

The result is pearls rich in carbon chains.

Bioplastic and petroleum-based plastic are both basically chains of carbon atoms, meaning similar material and thus similar applications.

Now, let’s discuss Full Cycle’s patented process to produce PHA.

PHA production process

We use organic waste as the feedstock to grow the bacteria to make those pearls of PHA.

Organic waste means food waste, agricultural byproducts, paper and cardboard products, among others.

Using organic waste as a feedstock is a major differentiation compared to other biomaterial manufacturers. Full Cycle offers low-carbon intensive and low-cost biomaterial production.

There you have it, Full Cycle Bioplastic; addressing climate change, plastic pollution, and food waste with one solution, catalyzing the circular economy.