Lactips, a milk-based plastic substitute

Posted on 24 March 2020.

This French start-up produces biodegradable water-soluble thermoplastic pellets from milk protein.

Founded in 2014 in Saint-Étienne (France) by Marie-Hélène Gramatikoff, a plastics engineer and businesswoman, and Frédéric Prochazka, lecturer-researcher at Jean-Monnet-Saint-Étienne University, the company Lactips has developed a plastic substitute in the form of pellets made from cow's milk protein.

Suitable for industrial uses, this new biobased material is mainly used to make 100% natural packaging for detergents and cleaning products. But since it is edible, it could also be used to produce food packaging.
  Lactips pellets are made from a milk protein – casein - via an innovative industrial process kept secret by the company. So what makes it so special? The pellets leave no trace in the environment. They are fully biodegradable and in particular water-soluble in both hot and cold water. These two properties are of great interest to industry, particularly in the cleaning products sector, which uses plastic films (in large quantities) to cover dishwasher and single-dose detergents.

Lactips is a plastic substitute: clean, efficient and safer for the consumer. The objective of the start-up based in Saint-Étienne is to enable its customers to market less polluting products and help them reduce their environmental impact by no longer using petro-plastic. It thus meets the needs of companies engaged in an eco-responsible approach.

 

Milk and "smart packaging"

Lactips wants to develop a recovery channel for milk unfit for consumption (out of date yoghurt, for example). Remember that in France, the dairy industry is the second largest food industry in terms of turnover, just behind the meat industry.   Although Lactips’ biosourced plastic pellets are intended for use in manufacturing films to cover inedible products, the company is keen to work hand-in-hand with manufacturers to develop packaging for edible products.    The agri-food industry is constantly looking for new packaging techniques to improve the preservation of fresh produce. Active - even "smart" - packaging has grown significantly in recent years.
In addition to limiting food waste, it offers a good alternative to the preservatives that are sometimes present in foods.   It’s a promising market for Lactips, whose product, with its barrier properties, offers numerous possibilities.
In 2018, Lactips commercialized its first bioplastic films for dishwasher tablets. The company today has about forty employees.  

CREDIT: Main picture © Lactips