Molly Morse (USA) - winner 2012 - Mango Materials
Plan: Mango Materials uses bacteria to turn methane into biopolymer granules in a cradle‐to‐cradle loop, using a patented process. The biodegradable, affordable plastic can be made into products, such as toys, packaging, and agricultural and construction materials. After use, these can be sent to landfill or a digester and the resulting methane returned to the microbial process. Low costs allow competition with petroleum-based plastics. Mango Materials has access to free methane feedstock and a world-class polymer facility and a prototype bioreactor location. It has successfully completed a 60-day field trial.
"Since winning the competition in 2012, a lot has happened – we have spoken at numerous conferences and events, hired new people, bought new equipment and supplies, formed new partnerships and dreamed of even more ways our bioplastic could positively impact the world around us. Aside from the Postcode Lottery Green Challenge, Mango Materials was also awarded a $500K Phase II award from the USA National Science Foundation. We have used this funding to scale-up and in mid-August 2013 completed our first bioplastic production run in our new, larger lab space with our newly assembled bioreactor system. All this work has required a lot of effort from our entire team, and our headcount has grown tremendously. Since winning, over 25 people have been affiliated with Mango Materials in one capacity or another. From long-term permanent employees to temporary high school summer interns, many people’s lives have been altered from the work we are trying to do.
Winning the Postcode Lottery Green Challenge will always be a special memory for me. It was the moment when I knew we finally had the opportunity to really tackle the challenge of global warming and plastics in the environment. The days are still long, but they are full of purpose and passion."
Biography: I am a bioplastics and biocomposites engineer with experience in construction management and I contributed to multiple patents in the bioplastics and biocomposites industries. I studied at Cornell University and Stanford University. While working extensively with Engineers for a Sustainable World, I traveled to India, where I saw firsthand the use of temporary building materials in provisional shelters in the wake of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami. Seeing how these temporary materials were only used fleetingly motivated me to investigate and develop sustainable, biodegradable material alternatives.
While consulting for a venture capital company, I realised the capabilities start-up companies have to transform the world and I became extremely excited about starting my own. I launched Mango Materials based off of intellectual property from my Ph.D. research and I currently work with long-time and new colleagues in the quest to produce environmentally friendly plastics from sources of waste. I’m extremely passionate about the environment and my sights are set on producing a truly green, affordable bioplastic that will have a positive environmental impact. In my free time I like to travel, race in triathlons, hike mountains, and eat dark chocolate and cheese. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area with my husband Tim, and our sons, Blake and Cole.