Mango Materials, a California-based startup company, produces biodegradable plastics from waste biogas (methane) that are economically competitive with conventional petroleum-based plastics. Mango Materials uses excess methane gas from wastewater treatment plants or landfills to produce pellets of polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA), a valuable polymer that is converted into a variety of high-margin or high-volume, eco-friendly plastic products such as children’s toys, electronic casings, water bottles, and food packaging containers.
What are the benefits to implementing your technology?
The bioplastic production process has numerous environmental benefits, including use of a greenhouse gas as feedstock, lower energy requirements compared to traditional feedstocks, and production of a biobased, biocompatible, and completely biodegradable product. Thus, production of bioplastics at water resource recovery facilities (WRRFs) will increase the amount of environmentally friendly, non-toxic polymer on the market. In addition to these broad environmental benefits, generation of high-value bioplastics can benefit WRRFs by providing a revenue stream that is greater than the cost savings associated with use of the biogas for energy production.
Has the technology been tested, demonstrated, or implemented to date?
Mango Materials has demonstrated that the bacteria grow and produce bioplastic at various scales and locations. This includes field trials using methane from a wastewater treatment plant, as well as multiple verifications using methane from dairies, landfills, and numerous WRRFs.
The current field test site is at Silicon Valley Clean Water in Redwood City, CA. Further testing is being planned and currently being implemented at this site.
What are the next steps needed to advance your technology?
To complete commercialization, the company seeks additional partnerships with methane producers, as well as manufacturing and financial resources. Mango Materials has demonstrated bioplastic production using untreated biogas from a WRRF and is poised to design and conduct a larger-scale facility that can ultimately be replicated at methane production sites across the country.
After optimization of the current MangoBeta prototype test unit, the company will build a production plant (MangoStandard), which will produce over two million pounds of bioplastic. MangoStandard requires approximately 250,000 cubic feet of methane per day, along with utilities, water, and disposal methods. The water needed for the facility could be effluent from the treatment process or recycled water. The skid-mounted equipment consists of standardized tanks and pumps, but is unique in its need of a small footprint. The system will be automated and need little maintenance once initial testing has been conducted.
How has LIFT helped, or how can LIFT help?
The WEF/WERF/LIFT Intensification of Resource Recovery Forum provided Mango Materials with an opportunity to meet key players in the WRRF landscape. The ability to meet face-to-face with these individuals and discuss the potential integration of a bioplastics production facility at their location was critical for Mango Materials’ growth and success. LIFT has the ability to facilitate these partnerships between small businesses and utilities/municipalities, which will only help to accelerate the growth of the resource recovery movement in WRRFs.