SME aiming to turn local hotel sector into biodegradable cornstarch-based materials

Catching the wave of sustainable commercial development, local SME Gourmet Creative (Macau) Ltd. is looking at the city’s large hotel industry as the main target for its cornstarch-based biodegradable utensils and materials.

The company, founded in 2018, is the local distributor for a Hong Kong partner which supplies a series of biodegradable products. Under the leadership of its Director, Carman Ying, the local SME now supplies customers with numerous kitchen products, including aprons, gloves, tablecloths and even shopping bags, shower caps, umbrella covers, shoe covers, and rain ponchos.

Ms. Ying has worked since 2008 for Gourmet Creative’s partner company, Gourmet House, a local pastry manufacturer that possesses a food-manufacturing and supply chain linked to the local hotel industry.

“Last year, our 10th anniversary, we were looking for further improvement in terms of the use of disposable items, such as aprons or plastic bags, that we need for hotel kitchens or catering partners. This was the initial idea: we were looking for a replacement for our current plastic disposable items,” Ms. Ying told MNA.

In total, Macau produced some 522,548 tonnes of solid waste in 2018, 22.5 per cent of which consisted of plastic materials, according to data from the Environmental Protection Bureau.

Only 22.1 per cent of the total waste ended up being recycled, with the remainder having been sent to landfills or to the local incineration plant.

On average, Macau produced about 2.17 kg per capita last year, which placed the city above more populous metropolitain areas such as Singapore and Hong Kong, which produced 1.45 kg per capita, or Beijing, which produced 1.17 kg per capita.

The local SME then started searching for sources for non-disposable materials in Hong Kong, where it found a partner last year, a company named UPM, which produced 100 compostable and oxo-degradable items for kitchen use.

Gourmet Creative was then set up as a distribution point in Macau for such environmentally friendly products – produced in a factory in mainland China – and started fully promoting them in the city around July of this year.

The utensils are either oxo-degradable or matter bi-compostable, with the former made of oxo-degradable additives and the latter made of cornstarch from Italy.

Oxo-degradable materials break down into smaller pieces within 18 to 24 months, requiring only light, heat and natural organisms decompose.

Meanwhile, some of the company’s materials are made of European GMO-free cornstarch, which breaks down without leaving any toxins in 180 days or in 4 to 12 months if in water.

Gourmet Creative currently has about four clients, which are mainly from the hotel sector, the industry being a large target for its business as sustainable trends lead businesses to look for more environmentally friendly options.

The company also operates a cake shop that uses and supplies bio-degradable materials.

“I would say that [the hotel sector] is our main target, since its consumption is huge. If hotels have the willingness and intention to consume better-quality products by replacing all their plastic utensils, it would be a really positive for us,” Ms. Ying noted.