MyBlueCity is going digital | Interview #22 | Ensymm
Ensymm – A sustainable toothbrush made with …chitosan!
Ana Ferreira (BioMarine Community Manager)
There is a clear and generalized movement that crosses all industries: the need to start putting into practice alternative solutions that, in the end of the day, can make a change in terms of energy consumption, CO2 emissions, waste management, etc. The challenge? Re-adapting processes, practices, behaviors, and so much more. Nevertheless, sleek innovation and creative design are allowing for sustainable alternatives to disrupt the market and take a stand in the current markets. One of such examples is the new wet&clean toothbrush developed by Ensymm composed by: bioplastic, bamboo and…chitosan!
We talked to our Community Member, Dr. Pedram Dehdari, after the Blue Bioplastics Innovation Workshop in Monaco, to know all about this innovative and more sustainable solution and what they aim to do with it!
Ensymm, a project puzzle maker
Ensymm is a project consulting company from Düsseldorf born in 2002 that is focused in the area of life sciences, offering technology transfer support and project management for both private and public entities, working mainly on biotechnology, biomedical, biopharma and bio-agriculture. At the forefront of innovation in these biotech related areas, Ensymm has a clear mission, as Pedram simply put it – “We are a project consulting puzzle maker for the companies that want to enter in biotech-based projects. We put the puzzle pieces together as efficiently as possible regarding budget, region, requirements and quality, to obtain tailored shaped projects”. With projects developed in 44 countries and an established supplier network of more than 100 companies, Ensymm solutions are effectively reaching and shaping different markets towards more sustainable practices.
A chitosan-based solution
Due to their biotech background and specialty, Pedram and their team at Ensymm support the development of innovative compounds that are aligned with the industry needs, such as the demand for the replacement of chemical components by natural ones. As so, one of their great achievements is the use of chitosan from crustacean shells to provide a chitosan-based compound with amazing antibacterial and antifungal properties that can be applied in, almost, everything!
A sustainable toothbrush is born
An estimated total of 3.5 billion plastic toothbrushes are bought every year and end up being tossed. Not so fun fact: did you know that there are toothbrushes in the environment since 1938, when they were first produced! This means that, most probably, your childhood toothbrush is probably still out there. Moreover, plastic toothbrushes are the second largest source of plastic waste in the world, after plastic bags. Conclusion? It needs to stop.
Pedram explains how it all started – “The idea was catalyzed by Dr. Taghavi, an experienced dentist in Düsseldorf, that approached me with the idea of a more environmentally friendly option to the one-time-use plastic toothbrush commonly used by dentists (with embedded toothpaste). I quickly saw the potential of using chitosan as a natural alternative to coat the bristles and prevent bacterial and fungal attachment”. However, there were a lot of other changes required, to make it more sustainable – “We replaced the plastic handle by a bamboo one and the bristles by microbial-produced bioplastic. The toothpaste (with added chitosan) is then added directly on the bristles, so no toothpaste tube is needed! Moreover, we use a totally recycled paper case. In the end, we have a ready-to-use toothbrush, totally free from oil-based plastic!”. Finally, it’s important to say that not only the toothbrush is a more sustainable product in the end, but also before, as all the production process requires less energy and CO2 consumption!
The team behind the solution
Behind the solution there is an interdisciplinary team – “To make the initial idea a reality we needed different expertise! For that, Dr. Taghavi is responsible for guaranteeing that the toothbrush is compliant with medical dental requirements and patient friendly. He did all the recommendation for dental use”. They also count with Dr. Bishnu, a well-known researcher at the University of Prince Edward Island in Canada - “Dr. Bishnu is responsible for the coating concept on the bristles, effectivity test in shelf life, antibacterial grade, etc… That is, adding the chitosan to the toothpaste and then into the bristles of the toothbrush and respective proof-of-concept. All of us are co-founders of this idea”.
The advantages, main challenges and future achievements
The solution is mainly directed for airlines and hotel chains, as Pedram shared – “Hotels are becoming greener due to customers demand, and these solutions fits their needs! For airlines, this is where we can really make a difference not only with a more environmentally friendly solution but with a lighter option versus the plastic alternative (hence, less fuel), which is their great struggle!”. The main challenge, as Pedram stated – “Was the building of the whole supply-chain to produce chitosan-based toothpaste, bioplastic bristles, bamboo handle and recycled paper box-case. In total we have 6 suppliers!”. Despite this, and after launching the product only two months ago, the team was already able to have the first orders and a contract with a big supplier that is working with the main 25 airline companies. Their goals? “Promoting the product as much as possible to increase our client’s portfolio! We want to reach the big hotel chains and airlines, making them, as we like to say, cleaner and greener!”.
For more info about Ensymm, check out their website HERE or connect with the Team through the BioMarine Community!