Soy brings hope for eco-friendly microbead alternative

Graduates from Indiana's Purdue University hope to market the technology to personal care companies

The soybean plant

A team of graduates from Purdue University, Indiana, US, have developed SoyFoliate, a soy-based microbead technology that aims to be an environmentally friendly alternative to plastic microbeads for use in personal care products.

Founders Samuel Lewis, Steve Ferris, Alison Switzer and and Ryan Pendergast developed SoyFoliate after realising the need for alternative microbead technology, following the Obama administration's 2015 restrictions on plastic microbead particles.

Lewis said: “Soy has several biodegradable and hydrophilic properties that make it a great substitute to plastic microbeads.

“Plastic beads do not absorb water, and soy can over time,” he explained.

“To mitigate the problem we mixed our beads with small amounts of oil to prevent water from saturating the beads and decreasing their rigid properties.”

The team now plans to move forward with prototyping, stability testing and business development for SoyFoliate, and hopes to license the technology to personal care companies.

“Our environmentally friendly soy microbeads are a highly marketable alternative to use in personal care products,” Lewis said.

“We look forward to developing a finalised formulation and product and partnering with both producers and companies who will want to use it in their products.”

Companies