“By taking useful building blocks from nature and producing polymers based on those building blocks on an industrial scale, B4Plastics shows that innovative and sustainable business go hand in hand. With their unicorn character and potential to build a R&D center in the field of bioplastics in Limburg, they rightly deserve this award,” say Johann Leten and Cathérine Dreesen, managing director and director of innovation of Voka – KvK Limburg. “With B4Plastics as the winner and Luminex and Netalux as the two other top nominees, Limburg is showing its most innovative side. We can only be proud of that.” said Governor Jos Lantmeeters.
An entrepreneurial dream that became an operational reality five years ago for CEO Stefaan De Wildeman. Stefaan founded B4Plastics in 2014 and right from the start, he made the conscious decision to become the first company in the world to focus on making biopolymeric materials tailored to the customer and the application. Polymers are large molecules that make up plastics. The traditional plastics industry makes polymers from petroleum, while bioplastics companies such as B4Plastics look in nature for useful building blocks for polymers which can be produced on an industrial scale. Among other things, they use biological waste from agriculture or residual fractions from the food industry.
The company went global very fast and to give an example; B4Plastics already won several international awards including the prestigious Food Planet Prize for the development of biodegradable fishing nets. The company was backed up last December by Aerosol Dispensor expert Lindal Group, and the European Innovation Council.
“Stefaan De Wildeman has already brought dozens of global brands to Limburg with this new concept in the plastics industry,” said Johann Leten, managing director of Voka – KvK Limburg. Cathérine Dreesen, innovation director of Voka – KvK Limburg, adds. “Since the start-up, their turnover has already grown twenty times, the interest as well as the potential is enormous for this innovative company. Their ambition to become the first unicorn in biomaterials in the world is justified. For Limburg, B4Plastics can become a R&D center in the field of bioplastics. It is this potential that we are rewarding today with our 2022 Limburg Innovation Award.”
“Innovative companies like B4Plastics are an inspiration and motivation for others in our province to come up with solutions to problems we are facing today or that are yet to come. These companies therefore deserve all our praise and support,” stated Governor Jos Lantmeeters. “I would therefore like to congratulate not only B4Plastics, but also the two other top nominees Netalux and Luminex. They show the innovation power of our Limburg economy.”
“We are particularly proud and grateful to receive the Innovation Award from Voka – KvK Limburg,” says Stefaan De Wildeman, CEO of B4Plastics. “This award is not only a recognition of our work, but also highlights the increasing importance of bio-economy within our society. Thanks to the financial support of VLAIO, we have been able to strengthen and accelerate our innovations.”
For example, within the CrossRoads project – a project of Interreg Flanders-Netherlands – we have made several rags from mycelium textiles at lab scale together with our partners. The intention is to evolve to industrial scale and use the mycelium textile for the production of handbags, shoes, seats,… By doing so, our future leather products will not only be much more sustainable, but also grown and marketed locally. Through dozens of other research projects, we are able to develop several biomaterials that occupy a totally new balance between function, ecology and cost. Our aspiration is that every person will encounter them in his or her daily life within this decade.”
Through the “Flemish bio-economy policy plan”, the Flemish Government is investing in sustainable, bio-based innovations in Flanders. The energy crisis and the increasingly far-reaching consequences of climate change, show that we must become less dependent on fossil raw materials and thus look for alternative raw materials to make sustainable and circular products.
The transition to a bio-economy, in which we make useful products from biological waste and biomass, is therefore an important link to make the Flemish economy resilient for the future. With the Flemish bio-economy policy plan, the Flemish Government is therefore putting additional emphasis on research, innovation and cooperation between industry and agriculture. For this plan, in recent years a total of 20 million euros from the Flemish Resilience Relance Plan has been deployed.
At B4Plastics, we are committed to creating sustainable and innovative plastics to push the old fossil plastics towards the New Plastics Economy. If you’re ready to change our tomorrow together with the B4Plastics green team, find our open vacancies here or apply spontaneously by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org