“A patented low-carbon footprint compound using responsibly sourced calcium carbonate (stone) not only significantly reduces the carbon footprint of many plastic items, but also cuts the use of virgin plastic by more than half without compromising their functionality or cost,” opines Florencio Cuétara, in dialogue with POLYMERS Communiqué.
Q. Tell us about your range of products and how it reduces the dependency on virgin plastic?
We have engineered a technology called ‘Made From Stone’, for which we’ve developed a series of specialised and technical compounds that replace
majority percentages of virgin resin with renewable calcium carbonate (stone).
Q. How do you connect with the current plastics processing?
‘Made From Stone’ compounds are a plug-andplay solution requiring no additional investment to adopt, which makes integrating the technology into current plastics processing simple. ‘Made FromStone’ compounds can be used across various manufacturing processes including film, moulding and thermoforming.
In terms of blown film, our technology can make a product with concentrations of as much as 78% stone! These films are now rolling out worldwide.
For multi-layer blown film, we have developed a mono-material high-barrier film – the first of its kind.
This film is being developed for hygienic products like wipes, which not only require a barrier to moisture, but also for perfume. This technology can also be applied to sachets.
In the moulded product category, bottles with up to 65% calcium carbonate have been created, which are not only lightweight, but also floatable, meaning they can be sorted in recycling facilities. It is important to mention that when you reduce the virgin resin by 65%, you are also reducing the carbon footprint.
In terms of injection moulding, our customers have been able to use ‘Made From Stone’ technology to manufacture pieces, containers and even furniture! While ‘Made From Stone’ initially started out as a solution targeted to packaging, we are also working with clients to develop products in a myriad of other categories, including agricultural applications and hardware.
Q. Take us through the journey of Okeanos and the challenges it faced due to the global pandemic.
Prior to the start of COVID, Okeanos had been on the verge of a global launch. We have had products in development, a new office in Miami, and new distribution channels worldwide. Then the world changed almost overnight, and when it did, we thought the challenges were nearly insurmountable. We thought that not being able to speak to our customers in person and have people touch and experience the product was the secret to our success. However, we soon learned to adapt to our new reality – a virtual one.
We didn’t know where the world was going, so we localised production regionally, and trained our staff virtually. We learned to work as a global team, focused on strengthening our relationships and continued to improve.
Fast forward to January, 2023; ‘Made From Stone’ technology is now being used to make products worldwide. Today, we have 12 compounding facilities around the world with six more in the pipeline.
Q. What has been the response to your product in themarket?
The response has been amazing; we have more leads than we can manage! We are well on our way to being able to manufacture 25,000 tonnes of compound a month, and most importantly, on our way to making positive and verifiable change.
Right now, we are being selective in picking our clients as we continue to grow our capacity around the globe. In India, we are targeting very specific partnerships that will help to grow business there and are working to establish and cultivate a working relationship with the government.
Q. Are your products recyclable?
Our products comply with all sorting tests currently used in recycling facilities, enabling them to be easily segregated according to the type of
remaining resin in the product.
Q. How are your products different from the bioplasticproducts?
While bioplastics are ‘buzzy’ in the industry right now, the actual size of that market is very small in comparison to the quantities we’re capable of manufacturing. Additionally, bioplastics use organic material as a feedstock, often requiring land to grow the organic material and new processing facilities to develop it, resulting in bioplastics costing 3 – 4x as much as ‘Made From Stone’. Bioplastics also have an enormous carbon footprint, both on the creation and degradation side.
Q. You recently got into a joint venture with Kandui Industries. How do you foresee your growth in the country?
Yes, Kandui is our partner in India, and together, the business is really growing. We have an additional capacity coming up in March and we are continuing to grow. India is the largest market in the world and has great sources of calcium carbonate. Here, we are aiming to increase capacity
to 5,000 tonnes a month. Working in India will not only bring this solution to Indian consumers, but will also help boost India’s green economy, limit plastic imports and create local jobs. It’s truly a multi-faceted solution.
Q. What is your plan for the next threeyears?
On the technical side, we hope to announce alternative non-resin binders and new additives. Additionally, we are aiming to quadruple our capacity to 10,00,000 tonnes this year. We are also investing heavily in innovation, collaborating with agricultural entities and marine research teams. We have also designed a mechanism to speak to consumers directly through a QR code about their carbon footprint and the impact of their buying decisions.
In three years, we hope to see packaging and products ‘Made From Stone’ in use worldwide, and hope to have made a significant and measurable impact on both the plastic pollution problem and the CO2 emissions issue.
Q. It’s been three years of your partnership; where do you see Okeanos India standing today?
Okeanos India is in a very strong position in the market. We are in the final stages of bringing several key projects to market, and are continuing
to build our capacity to enable us to serve more customers regionally.
Q. What is your initial assessment of the feedback from your trials in India? How has
the market responded to your product?
The trials have been very successful thus far and excitement is building rapidly for ‘Made From Stone’ technology. That being said, the current lack
of legislative framework for alternatives to plastic has made it challenging for Okeanos to penetrate the market. This is why we’re aiming to work
more closely with the government to help foster innovative solutions into the market. In the other geographies, the government is also giving this
revolutionary product a push.
Q. Which sector are you focusing on in India? Who would be the early adopters of your product?
We are currently focusing on courier bags, multilayer films, branded 1 kg bags (rice / wheat) and certain blow moulding solutions.
Q. Do you think in the next three years you will have enough capacity to cater to all the clients in India?
At present, we have a capacity of 500 tonnes per month. From April, 2023 onwards, we plan to double the capacity, and then increase further as needed based on the demand, which we foresee beingsignificant.