A new lease of life for cow horns?
Posted on February, 7th 2017.
The Toulouse start-up Authentic Material collects, sorts and recycles cow horns that would otherwise be incinerated. The result is a new organic and modular material for use in industry.
Made of cow horn, this new 100% organic material can be used for cutlery, jewelry, eyewear, buttons - and even cosmetics.
Use organic waste material for industrial and craft applications? Authentic Material does! It is a young start-up in Toulouse created in April 2016 by Vincent Menny, a mechanical and productive engineering engineer, supported by Dimitri Mazars, an agricultural and food industry management engineer. Their idea? Produce natural materials from organic waste.
Their first experiments were with the unused or only partially used cow horn that usually ends up in incinerators. To successfully transform it, Authentic Material came up with the idea of applying a process to cow horn that is used in powder metallurgy. Hot pressing fulfils the three essential parameters - pressure, temperature and hygrometry – producing a new recycled, 100% organic, and modular material.
This process not only uses a previously untapped resource, but also creates a new, bespoke, high-value, high value-added material with multiple applications such as cutlery, eyewear, buttons and even cosmetics. This technology produces two types of material, one 100% horn with no additives and another hybrid material that with added bio-polymers is washable and won’t suffer in the dishwasher.
From waste cow horn to innovative material
Not surprisingly, the first sector to be interested in Authentic Material’s innovation was the tableware industry. The process convinced Forge de Laguiole - the famous Aubrac-based cutlery maker – which has ordered knife handles from the start-up.
Installed on the premises of the very serious CNRS elaboration of materials and structural studies center in Toulouse, the young start-up has just obtained the JEI label for young innovative companies and has joined the Midi-Pyrénées incubator. To help it develop its project, it has the help of Toulouse Tech Transfer, a technology transfer accelerator that supports regional innovation. The CNRS research laboratory and INP Toulouse, specializing in the study of polymers, are also supporting the development of Authentic Material.
Set up a local cow horn collection chain
But Vincent Menny's ideas don’t stop there! The start-up is hoping to extend its process to mother-of-pearl, bone and wood. In 2017, the CEO of Authentic Material will also target the Asian market... for chopsticks!
The start-up also wants to develop a genuine local raw material supply chain from slaughterhouses and butchers. On the French market alone, the company aims to recycle between 5 and 10 tonnes of horns a year.
The originality of the approach is that it creates a bio-sourced and local supply chain that includes collecting, sorting, cleaning, drying, grinding and processing. It controls the entire value chain by starting with the source of the product and covering every stage through to the transformed material.
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Main picture: © Authentic Material