TBM Co., Ltd, Tokyo, Japan


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Name of Organization / Company: TBM Co., Ltd, Tokyo, Japan

Category: Award for Innovation in Energy & Sustainability

Entry Title: TBM – LIMEX


In 2014, a Japanese company, TBM Co., Ltd., has created a limestone based material, called LIMEX. It is comparatively rather more durable and water proof than normal paper and LIMEX can be not only paper alternatives, but also plastic alternatives. By using abundant resources of limestone, LIMEX is eco-friendly material. TBM acquired a patent in Japan and have acquired a patent or have pending-patent in 43 additional countries. Since then, TBM has been working on global expansion of LIMEX, a revolutionary material that is both ecological and economical.

In order to produce one ton of regular paper would normally require roughly 20 trees and 100 tons of water, which has a lot of impacts on this planet. On the other hand, one ton of LIMEX paper can be produced with 0.6‒0.8 tons of limestone and roughly 0.2-0.4 tons of polyolefin resin without any trees or any water. Because limestone is a mineral, LIMEX paper made from limestone can be recycled theoretically permanently.

By replacing plastic to LIMEX, it will be reducing more than 50% of oil use. We are also experimenting to replace 20-40% polyolefin resin of LIMEX to more eco-friendly resin such as biodegradable resin.

In 2016, TBM has completed a life cycle assessment, with University of Tokyo and verified that LIMEX has a 98% reduction in its water footprint compared to normal coated paper. This proves LIMEX gives positive impact on this planet, considering water risk is ranked as No.1 topic at World Economic Forum 2015 and No.3 topic in 2017. The assessment also concludes that LIMEX achieves a very close to 40% reduction on CO2 emission compared to normal plastic.

In a nation that imports over 90% of its energy, LIMEX promotes Sustainable Society by drastically reducing water, trees and oil usages and instead by using limestone, which is 100% self-sufficient in Japan. For example, if just 5 percent of the world’s paper was replaced with LIMEX, the amount of water equivalent to the annual needs of 220 million people could be saved.

Plus, limestone is very cheap, 50% price compared to pulp price. LIMEX production price right now is already below the cost of synthetic paper. Having developed its own technology, TBM began commercial sales of LIMEX business cards in 2016 and as of March 2017, more than 1100 companies have purchased our product.

Additionally and continuously, LIMEX products, such as restaurant menus, signs, book covers, and horticulture labels, have been expanding to various industries.

In 2015, TBM completed a pilot plant in Shiroishi city with an annual production capacity of 6,000 tons of LIMEX. The company plans to complete an additional factory with an annual production capacity of 30,000 tons in Tagajo city by 2020, also Japanese government and other world major companies have invested money in TBM to help expanding LIMEX to the world. In March 2017, TBM has signed an MoU to explore the possibility of manufacturing LIMEX products in Saudi Arabia together with JGC Corporation, who has the most experiences and expertise in Japan to build plants in foreign countries, and NICDP.

In 2016, TBM launched its first overseas office in San Francisco and became the first winner of Social Impact Award by “Plug and Play”, one of the three largest incubators in Silicon Valley. TBM also received high praise among 24 finalists at the “Plug and Play” New Materials & Packaging pitch event. “Plug and Play” is a global innovation platform for startup companies, major companies, and investors. Their successful investments include PayPal, Dropbox and SoundHound.

LIMEX is a revolutionary material that is both ecological and economical. LIMEX can alternate both paper and plastic. As TBM continues to find creative partners and develops to scale, look for LIMEX in products and packages soon!

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