Ancient Brazilian plant opens new opportunities in green economy

Global Business

The Cassava root, native to Brazil, has been one of the country’s major staples for centuries.

Now entrepreneurs are looking at the ancient crop with hopes for the future.

CCTV America’s Lucrecia Franco reports. Follow Lucrecia C. Franco on Twitter @LucreciaFranco

Ancient Brazilian plant opens new opportunities in green economy

The Cassava root, native to Brazil, has been one of the country’s major staples for centuries. Now entrepreneurs are looking at the ancient crop with hopes for the future.CCTV America’s Lucrecia Franco reports.

In Brazil, many thermal cups and trays are made out of one of the most ancient staples: cassava, also known as manioc or yuca, a perennial tropical plant.

Engineer Claudio Rocha Bastos is the father of the idea and owner of CBPAK, a Brazilian packaging company founded in 2002. It’s not big, but does have some big clients, like the local branches of Facebook, Google and Statoil, the Norwegian oil and gas company, among others.

With 45 employees, the company produces 400,000 packages per month. The formula includes cassava starch, water and a secret organic mix. All biodegradable and compostable ingredients, meaning they can return to the soil.

It is, however, a complex and expensive process that can mold the material into virtually any shape, similar to Styrofoam.

Bastos said the company’s revenue doubled this year and he’s expecting 300 percent growth in 2017 with franchises and joint ventures in foreign markets. His company got a big boost this summer, when France became the first country to ban disposable plastic cups and dishes.

Despite the higher cost of cassava-based production, using this abundant raw material that can biodegrade in just 90 days is proving to be not just good for the planet, but for business as well.