Brazil’s CBPAK, with 15 employees, produces 300,000 packages for food each month. But they are not those common polystyrene packages. The CBPAK packages are made out of cassava starch. Ecologically correct, they take just 60 days to decompose and do not pollute the environment.
The idea of packages made out of starch arose in 2001, when engineer Claudio Rocha Bastos heard from a friend that a group was researching the possibility of using cassava as raw material. “I saw that that could become technology,” explained Bastos who, in 2006, concluded the process for development of the packages.
Located in São Carlos, in the interior of São Paulo, CBPAK received its first raw material from large starch producers and now has around 40 clients, especially in the sectors of organic agriculture and events. The company has also closed a deal to supply cups and trays to aerial catering company Lufthansa Service Group, starting in 2010.
Bastos says that the company is currently undergoing a phase of capitalization, and that after this period it should start investing in the foreign market through joint ventures. According to the businessman, the European market has already shown interest in the product.
Also in July this year, the company should receive a new machine to expand production to 3 million items a month. Bastos believes that will be the right moment to start exporting. The company has already sent products for testing in Chile, Uruguay and Argentina.
With the growing production, Bastos still hopes to expand the number of employees at his company to 80, working in three shifts. The forecasted revenues for 2011 are also good, reaching 10 million Brazilian reais (US$ 5.7 million).
The government of Brazil has part of the business. In 2007, CBPAK signed a contract with the Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES) to help in the consolidation of technology. Today, the BNDESPar, the bank’s investment arm, has 35% of the company’s capital.
Despite the high cost of cassava packages, the ecological appeal is strong and has already called the attention of companies that transform food, as well as the sugar and alcohol and electronic product sectors, as the organization is developing starch products that may replace the polystyrene protectors that come in cardboard boxes.