Alumni Profile

Mango Materials: The future is biodegradable.

Leading the bio-industrial revolution by turning abundant methane into biodegradable materials.

Conventional plastic sticks around in landfills and oceans for several hundreds of years, and is also produced using petroleum, a raw material that not only is limited, but has numerous competing uses. Mango Materials has developed a process that produces biodegradable plastic using waste methane, a potent greenhouse gas.  

Molly Morse, CEO, tells us, “Our mission is to turn waste into eco-friendly, affordable plastics while creating a positive environmental impact, and to this end we have developed a highly efficient conversion process wherein we feed bacteria waste methane gas to produce biodegradable plastics, using bacteria for the conversion process. We feed bacteria waste methane gas and they produce a biodegradable, bio-based polymer plastic called PHA.”  In addition to being nontoxic, this plastic has very similar mechanical properties to regular plastic, so it’s great for molded plastic products such as food packaging, baby toys, electronics, anything really. What makes it really different is that it biodegrades even in marine and anaerobic environments, essentially meaning that it will break down whether it is thrown into a landfill, or the ocean. It also biodegrades within as little as 2 weeks in a managed environment, compared to 47 to 90 days for PLA plastic, another biodegradable plastic option made from corn.

Not only does Mango Material’s produce an end product that is better for the environment, it does so using feedstock that is well known as a potent greenhouse gas contributing to the alarming rate of global warming on our planet. Molly shared some startling numbers, “Using the waste methane gas that would otherwise be released into the environment for a beneficial process, such as producing biodegradable plastic, you are looking at an absorption of 2200-4400 tonnes of methane, and creation of over 1100 tonnes of plastic. In addition, if the unused, vented methane from California landfills was collected and used for PHA feedstock, over 100 million pounds of plastic would be produced each year, enough to manufacture over 3 billion plastic water bottles.”   

Mango Materials was founded around intellectual property from Stanford University, including some work that Molly did during her PhD. Recognizing early on that the founding team had great technical expertise, but might be somewhat limited in their business expertise, they competed in the Cleantech Open, the world’s largest  business plan competition for cleantech companies. That experience led them to realize that they needed to determine if people would pay for the really cool technology they had developed. Their first key source of funding was an NSF phase I SBIR grant, through which they worked with Larta. 

They used the NSF funding to determine how efficient it would be to scale it up their production process and conducted some field tests. They soon discovered that this process was economically advantageous, and could be commercialized. Molly recounts, “This allowed us to approach more customers, who are very interested in testing our material on a larger scale. Specifically, we are talking to potential customers in the food packaging and eco-packaging space.” 

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Molly Morse

Founder & CEO
Mango Materials

Mango Materials has been extremely fortunate to have dedicated assistance through the beginning states of the commercialization process. Having a Larta principal advisor has been beneficial by reminding our highly technical team to always consider the customer and to begin these discussions early-on. Recognizing the valuable interactions with customers has been essential for developing our early business success.

Molly Morse

Founder & CEO
Mango Materials

Alumni News

December 4, 2023

Stella McCartney, conscious luxury pioneer, announces her strategic partnership with Mango Materials

Conscious luxury pioneer Stella McCartney announces her delegation to COP28 alongside a sustainable innovation exhibit to be held during the conference – titled Stella McCartney’s Sustainable Market: Innovating Tomorrow’s Solutions

November 16, 2023

Mango Materials Celebrates Launch of First-of-a-Kind Technology with Historic Ribbon Cutting in Vacaville, California

On November 7, 2023 Mango Materials hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the opening of its Launch Facility at the Easterly Wastewater Treatment Plant in Vacaville, California.

March 21, 2023

“Allbirds says its net-zero carbon shoe is here” featuring biopolymer from Mango Materials

Seven years and hundreds of iterations in, the carbon-focused footwear brand has created its first net-zero carbon product, the M0.0nshot shoe.

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