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A Water-Soluble Packaging to Unlock New Markets

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - ECOLACTIFILM (A Water-Soluble Packaging to Unlock New Markets)

Reporting period: 2018-07-01 to 2019-09-30

Lactips is a raw material producer, specialised in water-soluble plastics. Our material is the only thermoplastic and clean biomaterial worldwide to be able to make films which are water-soluble at room temperature.

Currently, the only plastic soluble in water is PVA which shows poor solubility below 30°C. This limitation prevents any use in the water treatment and agrochemicals sectors. Moreover, PVA cannot be used for laundry and dishwashing single doses when low temperatures (i.e. ambient temperatures and below) are used (economic or low temperature programs, Asian markets).

Thanks to this unique material, Lactips provides a solution for every packaging manufactures specialized in detergents and chemicals single doses. They can address Asian markets, sectors were hot water cannot be used and yet packaging must dissolve (agrochemicals, water treatment for swimming pools, etc). Since Lactips material is made of milk proteins, environmental impact is highly limited and the packaging biodegrades in days. These combined market opportunities can multiply by 5 the market for water-soluble packaging.
In the first period, work has focused on optimizing our current formulation for liquids, alkaline and acids powder applications and improve the water solubility properties below 20°C. We have notably well advance on the shrinkability of our material. In the period from 1 July 2018 to 30 September 2019 (period covered by the second report) we finalized the optimisation and the industrialisation of our formulations. We acquired news equipment to increase our production capacity.

Moreover we began the commercialisation; we signed an exclusive and worlwide distribution contract for the detergency sector (powder and tablets) with a major company in April 2019. We also signed a partnership with two distributors for others segments.
In 2017, we filed a new patent dedicated to our new formulation and its applications and we are finalizing two other patents for the end of 2019.
PVA constitutes the current market state-of-the-art. Since the project beginning, developments have allowed to reach a new level of progress. Lactips has indeed developed and optimized end-users’ applications (film production, shrinkability, compatibility with detergents for film respecting industrial constraints…) to show usability of Lactips’ materials with the aim to then sell pellets to end-users.

Lactips is now able to commercialise a bio-based and biodegradable formulation (in pellets shape) for detergency powder, liquid, chemicals. Moreover this formulation allows to make a film which is shrinkable and its dissolution is sufficiently improved in cold and hard water to meet clients’ requirements. Our formulation respects the industrial constraints about mechanical resistance and production rate.

Lactips is therefore the first company worldwide to be in capacity to produce industrially bio-based plastic pellets for users to make packaging films which
• Dissolve at cold temperatures (below 15°C)
• Dissolve in hard water
• Are shrinkable
• Are bio-based
• Are fully biodegradable

Much interestingly, the work performed during the project extension from July to September 2019 allowed us to have promising results for acid compounds packaging through cages rather than films, though it remains to be optimised. This is to be compared with the current solution, PVA, which is not satisfactory and rapidly degrades in contact with chlorine compounds for instance, hence the interest of several clients in our material.

Following the closing of a fund raising in July 2018, we have started in 2019 the implementation of a plant between Lyon and Saint Etienne, which will be delivered by the end of 2020 with six production lines. These new premises will be our head offices and will include an R&D laboratory. With this new plant, Lactips will be able to be a worldwide manufacturer. This symbolises too the growth of the company, as we expect to reach over 60 employees at the end of 2020 (14 in January 2017, 40 in June 2019), as planned in our business plan.

Since the Ecolactifilm project allowed us to significantly increase our efforts about packaging for detergents, we have started besides the development of food industry applications to accelerate our development and diversify our products. The new plant will be in accordance with standards for food packaging.
In early 2017, the Lactips team was 14 people, more than half in R&D. Today we are more than 40 distributed in Commercial, R&D, Production and Administration and we plan between 6 and 8 hires before the end of 2019 mainly in Commercial and Production.

Lactips and the ECOLACTIFILM project have a very good visibility in France and beyond our borders. For example, we have been selected by the Solar Impulse Foundation as one of the « 1 000 solutions that protect the environment in a profitable way » and were awarded the “Solar Impulse Efficient Solution” label. Moreover we met the French President Emmanuel Macron in May 2019 during the trade fair Vivatech in Paris. Thanks to this stepping stone, our CEO, Marie-Hélène Gramatikoff was in Japan in June 2019 with the French economic delegation. This has allowed Lactips to accelerate our development in Japan, initially planned rather from 2020 onwards.
Thanks to this project Lactips proved our capacity to substitute an oil-based product (PVA) by a bio-based and totally biodegradable material.