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Biohm is a multi-award-winning research and development led, bio-manufacturing company. We allow nature to lead innovation, to revolutionise construction and create a healthier, more sustainable, built-environment.

From orange peel to furniture: making materials from 'waste'

Our pursuits of progress, comforts and technological advancement, in an ever more populous world, have driven humanity to consume resources faster than our planet can regenerate them. Due to our linear consumption habits, we tend to produce lots of “waste”. This means only a small fraction of extracted resources are used, before they are disposed of. This linear trajectory defines every aspect of our lives, from the way we eat and build our homes, to how we manufacture our products.

Determined to do better, we are looking for ways to remake the world around us, using locally abundant resources, which don’t wreck the environment. After some searching we found the answer in a pretty unusual place, our own bin. Fascinated by the scent and shine of an orange peel, the deadly strength of a coconut shell and the sheer volume of coffee grounds, we wondered whether there was a way to give this ‘trash’ a new life. Thus began our journey into the wonderful world of Biobased Composites!

Image: Orb composite, made from orange peel, used to create a bench

Over the past couple of years we have explored many processes and manufacturing methods to transform waste streams into useful materials, uncovering a plethora of possibilities, all made from what would normally be considered “waste”. We came up with the term O.R.B. to describe these materials, an acronym for Organic Refuse Biocompounds. Our approach is to focus on the unique properties of each waste stream, creating a material which plays on the strength of its composing elements.

Our first generation of Biocomposites work on a similar principle to Fiberboard and other similar existing products. We combine bulk waste we collect locally with our special plant-based binders, yielding a strong, beautiful and fully organic material. Our current version is perfect for interior design or furniture design applications and as a fantastic surfacing material for medium term applications. We have recently completed some exciting projects with our materials, collaborating with our customers to deliver their ideal product, and improving our practices at every step of the way.

Our progressive research is focused on high waste, such as orange peel and cocoa husks which we are able to give a new life to. At times our laboratory can in-fact turn into a dreamy wonderland of rich colours and smells. As we continue R&D with this first generation of biocomposites, we are on the lookout for more, high-volume organic waste to experiment with. Moving forward we will be testing our materials to the highest criteria, making sure we deliver quality products, whilst continuously improving them and pioneering innovative supply chain models.

Image: Cocoa husks on display next to some samples, at a trade show

We love trash, and we’re confident that food and plant waste will become indispensable resources in the near future. This won't just offer sustainable alternatives to plastic and non-degradable materials, but using local and abundant waste will also return the uniqueness and diversity offered by different countries and ecosystems, greatly increasing the cultural identity of our societies and commodities.