Canadian startup converts food waste to bioplastic


In Toronto, startup Genecis Bioindustries is converting food waste into the bioplastic polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA).

“We program bacteria to convert low-value waste into high-value materials,” CEO and founder Luna Yu, tells The Globe & Mail. “Our business model is to work directly with waste-management companies,” she adds.

First, the company treats food waste with heat, acid and mechanical grinding. Next, bacteria break the waste into carbon building blocks in a bioreactor. The carbon is then fed to bacteria that converts the feedstock into PHA. Genecis then collects the PHA and coverts that into bioplastic pellets.

Currently, 45 tons of food waste yields about 1 ton of bioplastic. The company will be looking to synthetic biology to create bacteria that enable higher conversion rates as well as the production of other high-value products.

The company has raised nearly $1 million to date and plans to scale up production at the University of Toronto’s Banting and Best Centre by December, with a demonstration-scale plant planned for 2019.