If these crazy people asking for funding can start a business, so can I

Molly Morse

Getting bioplastics off the ground

What if we could produce plastic using one of nature’s most potent greenhouse gases (methane)? And what if that plastic wasn’t harmful to the environment but naturally biodegradable? What impact might an innovation like this have on the oceans, global warming, and the seemingly inevitable droughts, floods and human suffering it will cause to future generations?

Molly Morse

This is the question that drifted into the mind of Molly Morse one fine day in California while consulting for a venture capital firm and listening to yet another bioscience pitch from people who didn’t really know what they were talking about; and then suddenly realizing that: She did.

Within a few weeks Molly was learning how to create a start-up company from scratch. As a result, Mango Materials’ first field lab was based inside an old shipping container, with just one computer shared between four people, and not enough chairs.

The inspiration? Molly had conducted PhD research at Stanford University involving the production and biodegradation of a naturally occurring biopolymer, polyhydroxyalkanote (PHA). As a result she and her colleagues succeeded in creating a unique way of producing PHA using bacteria fed by methane. So she decided to commercialize it.

Today, Mango Materials can produce methane-based PHA at cost parity to oil-based plastics. The current goal is to scale-up production to ten million pounds of biodegradable plastic, which requires a staggering half billion cubic feet of methane: Gas that would otherwise be trapping heat in the atmosphere and warming up our planet.

Today's Pioneers