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LeafCOAT™ - a biodegradable, recyclable waterproof coating for paper

Leaf Resources is creating sustainable products from waste plant biomass.

Photo of Ken Richards
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Idea Title

LeafCOAT™ - a waterproof barrier coating for paper

Idea Summary

Leaf Resources is creating sustainable products from waste plant biomass and has advanced a renewable, recyclable, biodegradable waterproof coating suited to fiber cups and paper-based packaging.

Company / Organization Name (if applicable)

Leaf Resources Limited

Website (if applicable)

www.leafresources.com.au

Please include a visual (can be either 2D or 3D) representation/prototype of your concept. (required)

LeafCOAT™ barrier coating made from lignin, has been designed to be applied to paper-based materials such as virgin or kraft substrates (eg. paperboard/corrugated/containerboard) using current industry equipment. The coating has been tested at scale and demonstrates highly desirable features, notably its waterproof properties equal in performance to wax based & plastic polymer coatings.

A 100% biobased product, LeafCOAT™ is made from renewable resources, that support the performance required for food-service products (consistency & durability) and eliminates the introduction of more plastic into society. The effects of micro-plastic consumption have become well known both in human consumption and marine life. The technology under patent protection, is progressing through the standard international patent pathway.

This solution addresses which of the following:

  • Hot / Cold Fiber Cup

How is your concept recoverable?

The to-go fiber cup presents a number of challenges to recycling systems globally due to the nature of the polymer lining. Not all recycling facilities have the capability to accept these mixed materials. Leaf’s solution addresses this problem with a coating formulation that doesn't require separation, prior to the paper being introduced to the recycling process. Paper is made from plants and LeafCOAT™ is made from lignin, one of the three constituent parts of a plant. The inclusion of the lignin coating within the recycling mix, supports a stronger recycled finished substrate due to the structural nature of lignin and also enhances the colour of the recycled paper product, adding to the value of the recycled cardboard. Testing conducted at Australia’s Pulp and Paper Institute in Melbourne, indicates that LeafCOAT™ is repulpable and can achieve 0.08% net rejects, well below the 15% standard. It is also biodegradable/compostable (ASTM D6400) and demonstrates decomposition within 1 week.

How have you incorporated additional sustainability attributes (beyond recoverability) into your solution?

LeafCOAT™ solves the two core issues with the fiber cup whilst addressing key sustainability issues. Our coating is made from renewable accredited sources, derived from non-food, non-wood plant biomass. Creating a plant-based coating, has eliminated the use of petroleum, thus reducing our carbon footprint. The coating, comprising of lignin, refined glycerin and water provides structure equal to the quality of polymer coatings and is free from MOSH and MOAH.

What regions do you plan to address with your solution (and how will you accomplish this)?

Leaf intends to address the US (specifically California, Washington and Oregon), as well as Europe & Canada. With over 9500 incompatible recycling systems in the US, our solution could provide an immediate alternative to the mixed waste problem. Leaf has built numerous relationships with US companies through the development of our Glycell™ process. We continue to grow our product reputation via online engagement, presenting at industry conferences and pursue inquiries from end-user markets.

Describe your target market. Who will benefit from your product?

The target market for the coating would be the Pulp & Paper sector. If LeafCOAT™ was widely adopted by coating convertors and packaging manufacturers, the benefits would allow coating convertors/cup manufacturers to continue to utilize their equipment to coat the paperboard. The coating has been trialed as a wax substitute on corrugated medium in Australia and has been produced in rolls of up to 4km in length. We have received positive feedback from manufacturers that the coating provides excellent runability with traditional rod coating machines. Our licence of the technology extends to enter North America, Canada, Brazil, Malaysia and Europe, not Australia.

What is the current stage of development of your idea?

  • Research & Early Testing

What are the biggest challenges you are facing today? What are existing gaps in your solution?

Adoption of the technology has been hindered due to additional infrared dryers required to adequately anneal the coating to the surface of the paperboard. Drying temperatures of greater than 140 degrees C are needed. Speed of production is our greatest challenge currently. We require further R&D expertise to develop the liquid tight seal when forming the fiber cup and base. Current polymer coatings (plastic) are functional at providing a heat seal by quickly melting and joining the two surface areas at high speed production facilities. This is an area that will require additional resourcing for the LeafCOAT™ technology to be integrated into main stream production. The natural color of the product will require targeted positioning to showcase the stylish, contemporary look of the material.

Mentorship Needs (please select up to 3)

  • Materials and Technical Development
  • Engineering and Manufacturing
  • Product / Industrial Design and Prototyping

Tell us about yourself and your team. What is your background and experience?

Ken Richards has more than 30 years’ experience as a Chief Executive and Managing Director across both public and private companies in the agriculture, finance and technology sectors.

In what city are you located?

Brisbane, QLD

In what country are you located?

Australia

What is your legal / organizational structure? (if applicable)

Leaf Resources is an Australian company listed on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX:LER)

Please describe how becoming a Top Idea will support the growth of your concept.

As a prerevenue company, it is difficult to accelerate promising technology without funding. The funding would allow Leaf Resources to undertake the following steps to enable a sale (contract supply of formulation) of the coating into the US Pulp & Paper markets. • Continue product development of technical gaps • Partner with a US convertor/cup manufacturer • Gain market exposure- appointment of experienced advertising/PR company • Obtain certifications as required • Scale -Europe/Canada

How did you hear about the Challenge?

  • Closed Loop Partners website / social media

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A friendly reminder the deadline to edit your submission is toady, November 16 @ 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time. Please ensure all desired information, photos, videos, etc. is included in your submission by that deadline. Email nextgencup@ideo.comwith any questions.

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