Plastic pollution is present everywhere and increases continuously. Its overall amount represents > 300 Mt/y. Even more dramatic is the poor recyclability of this waste, i.e. more than 90% is not recycled to date. There is therefore a clear need to find a solution for this plastic pollution problem.
At the same time, given the current estimated growth in global population levels to 9.8 billion by 2050 the demand for animal proteins is expected to grow by 70%. Traditional ways of proteins’ production are extremely demanding in arable land and induce important GHGs emissions, whereas the overutilization of fertilizers and pesticides for crops’ production severely contributes to the degradation of our environment. Therefore, there is no other option than investigating the production of alternative proteins and of products for organic farming. Norbite contributes to solve these two urgent problems: plastic pollution and agricultural production.
The solution, that Norbite proposes to mitigate these problems, is both inspired by nature and scientifically proven. It is based on the extraordinary capacity of one insect, Galleria mellonella, to digest common plastic, and Norbite has developed and patented an automated vertical farming process that enables the insects to perform at industrial scale in a fully safe environment. Moreover, the patented technology allows the upcycling of >80% of common plastics, such as polyethylene, polypropylene, polystyrene, polyester, polyamide, polyacrylate, polyurethane, as well as their mixtures and copolymers. This very large scope of plastics enables several waste streams, including packaging, textile, and furniture, to be used as it is, without extensive sorting! It is important to mention that there is no microplastic left at the end of the transformation, because the larvae are bio-chemically transforming the molecules of plastic and to be certain that everything that was ingested is actually digested, the larvae are starving for 2 days before further transformation. Finally, the products specifically designed for organic farming, feedstock and direct human consumption are obtained, covering thus various aspects of healthy food production. From waste – to healthy food solutions!
The founder of the company, Nathalie Berezina, PhD, possesses the unique combination of international experience within bioplastic and insect industries, gained through her work for almost 10 years for a Belgian Research Centre, Materia Nova, specialised in bio-plastic production; and 5 years – for the French company Ynsect, one of the leading insect companies worldwide. Moreover, Nathalie has co-authored more than 30 peer-reviewed scientific articles and book chapters, and 20 patents, she is therefore a recognised expert in the field. The unique combination of this expertise and hands-on experience allows Nathalie to have a strong strategic vision for the development of the company. Since its creation in July 2020, Norbite has been thus quickly growing, it developed and patented its core technology, gained good customer traction and entered the Business Incubator of the European Space Agency, ESA BIC Sweden.
In June 2021 Norbite entered the very competitive program of European Institute of Innovation and Technology – Food Accelerator Network, EIT FAN, within the Helsinki Hub. Entering this program represents a wonderful opportunity for the start-up, as it gives both support from experts in different food-related fields within VTT and the University of Helsinki, and access to different corporate partners, such as Valio, Paulig, IFF, Danone Nutricia and Nestle. This program is thus helping to strengthen and shape the business case, and to validate the products/services offering through the EIT-facilitated pilots with corporates. Norbite is looking forward to enlarging its customers’ base thanks to this program and to establishing lasting partnerships with food, feed and petfood companies to bring its development to the next stage and to increase environmental and social impact of the company.
Written by Nathalie Berezina, founder of Norbite.