A directive banning the sale of single-use plastic products, including cutlery, plates or straws, will come into force in the European Union from July. A similar measure will certainly apply in Israel.
Up to now, 80 percent of the EU's consumption of such products has been covered by plastics. Another ten percent is bioplastics, which will probably also be banned. This year, although companies can sell out plastics, which they have pre-stocked, but then the only alternatives will be wooden cutlery, paper plates and other biodegradable products. Wooden cutlery, which should be the main substitute, is not popular among some consumers. Although some people don't mind wooden cutlery, they often complain of dysfunction and like a doctor's spatula aftertaste in the mouth.
The Czech start-up REFORK has developed cutlery from a unique degradable mixture based on wood flour, and since the beginning of this year it has been producing one million biodegradable forks and knives every month and wants to increase production to 20 million pieces per month. It also finances his departure in an original way - by issuing its own cryptocurrency.
From the beginning, the Czech startup was looking for the ideal material from which degradable cutlery could be made. They tried about two thousand different mixes before they found the right one. The final mixture eventually consists of 60 percent wood sawdust, which would otherwise be essentially worthless waste on sawmills. The binder is a biodegradable polymer produced by bacterial fermentation. And to improve the properties of the product, minerals are added to the mix.
The result is cutlery that should have better utility features than all-wood products. It is washable and at the same time has a solid durability, so it actually exceeds the "disposable" label. It lasts without problems for two or three months, "says Reforka's product manager Dan Beseda.
In addition to the production of cutlery, the company also tests prototypes of a degradable straw, needler or toothbrush. It also offers BBQ sets for barbecue parties or picnics in open air.
So far, 40 percent of production is exported - to Spain, France, Lithuania or Slovakia. In cooperation with our agency CzechTrade, REFORK is heading to the largest EU markets for disposable tableware - Italy and Germany. Disposable tableware is as popular in Italy as it is in Israel. It is used everywhere, not only in fast food, at mass events, but also in ordinary restaurants, bars, shops, family picnics in the open air or on the beach are also popular, where people usually take disposable cutlery. We also expect success in Germany, for example, not only as the most populous country in the Union, but also because the Germans are among the nations that are most environmentally friendly.
In many ways, REFORK is a prototype of a new-generation Czech exporter, which combined an innovative product with a socially responsible approach, and also came into play at the right moment. And it has an ambitious goal to increase production to two billion units per month by 2024, which would cover this Czech startup up to a tenth of the European market.
The start of the REFORK project was partly financed by an interesting method. The company created its own cryptocurrency. Its name is EFK and it was bought by about 2.5 thousand investors, mostly from the Czech Republic. EFK cryptocurrencies are now traded on two local cryptocurrency exchanges, and entry into the world's largest cryptocurrency trading platforms is also planned. In the future, the company plans to buy part of its profits from open market tokens and thus support the token in healthy growth. At the same time, the company intends to create a kind of community of supporters from investors. They will have the opportunity to vote on which beneficial projects will use part of the profit.
Prepared by the team of CzechTrade/CzechInvest Israel