Driscoll's and partners announce winners of inaugural Ag Plastics Innovation Challenge

Driscoll’s and industry partners announced the winners of the Agricultural Plastics Innovation Challenge. Carbon Upcycling Technologies and Enerra Corporation were selected for their innovation, business viability, focus on sustainability, scalability of their solution and the strength of their ecosystem. The selection process included more than 200 innovations from four continents with a range of solutions. Fourteen candidates were selected as finalists and each was evaluated by a jury comprised of industry, scientists, innovators and investors.

The use of plastic films in berry production has proven to have significant benefits including weed suppression, increased yield and many others but they continue to be one of the most difficult materials to recycle which is why the development of alternative materials to plastic film is so important for the berry industry.

“We were really impressed with the sheer number of applicants. We’ve known agricultural plastics pose challenges that we cannot solve alone so we’re inspired to not only see industry collaboration but to see people trying to tackle this challenge around the world,” said James duBois, senior environmental manager, Driscoll’s.  

Carbon Upcycling was recognized for its bio-compostable films and patented carbon capture and conversion technology. The technology allows for the efficient capture and conversion of CO2 into high-performance materials that can be used as alternatives to plastic films used in agricultural production.

“We’re thrilled to partner with Driscoll’s to not only show a low carbon, bio-compostable solution but one that enriches soil health and fuels plant growth at the end of life. We are eager to show that green can be better in the deployment at the research farm later this summer,” said Peter Zhou, polymer engineering lead, Carbon Upcycling.

Enerra Corporation was recognized for its technology that addresses the industry's need for new recycling processes. Enerra operates a patented plastic reformation technology that converts difficult-to-recycle ag plastic into market-ready transportation fuels without toxic catalysts or harmful emissions.

“We're excited to work with Driscoll's on this project. This is one step towards achieving our vision of a cleaner, infinitely liveable world,” said Sergio Perez, president, Enerra Corporation.

“Enerra is finding a creative outlet for the recycling of agricultural plastics that would otherwise be destined for landfills. They are providing an attractive alternative to costly fossil fuels,” said Thomas Taggart, vice-president of operations, California Giant Berry Farms.

Carbon Upcycling and Enerra Corporation will be invited to the Think Beyond™ annual investor forum, the Think Beyond Catalyst program at the Global Entrepreneurship Center, and will receive access to Think Beyond’s global ecosystem of investors and industry partners. Both Carbon Upcycling and Enerra Corporation will move into a field production pilot with Driscoll’s and will continue to explore pilot opportunities with other industry partners.

“We look forward to working with these companies and have high hopes for their innovations,” said James duBois, senior environmental manager, Driscoll’s.

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