Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 23rd 2017 Contents BG4 | COVER STORY
BUSINESS GUARDIAN guardian.co.tt MARCH 23 • 2017
Speaking to Dwight De Leon, it is easy to get a
sense of a man who is satisfied and frustrated
at the same time.
De Leon finds satisfaction in knowing that his
work as owner of Green Scene Ltd---a company
that specialises in the sale and distribution of
biodegradable plastic additives---is beginning to bear fruit. In
a sense he's a missionary championing the cause of changing
the face of the entire plastics industry.
He wants to make all plastics 100 per cent biodegradable,
meaning they can be broken down through biological means.
But being the missionary also leads to frustration.
De Leon's frustration results from the entrenched nature
of the use of plastics in its current form in everyday life, and
in part because of the lack of legislation that supports any
movement toward more environmentally friendly forms of
De Leon, 38, who is the exclusive regional distributor of
Ohio-based ECM BioFilms' additives for manufacturing
biodegradable plastics, acknowledges the magnitude of his
challenges but barrels on in spite of them.
Recently, he inked a deal with Wisynco, the Jamaican man-
ufacturer and distributor, to supply it with his additive (known
as ECM Master Batch Pellets) for use in all their styrofoam
The pellets are applied in the manufacturing process at the
same time with the plastic resins being used.
Two weeks ago Wisynco launched Eco Foam, a complete
rollout of all their styrofoam products (including meat trays,
egg crates and food boxes) which are now 100 per cent bio-
Though acknowledging his small victory, De Leon also rec-
ognises the effect of legislative changes in Jamaica, which
directly played a role in making his deal with Wisynco a reality.
In a wide-ranging interview, the Business Guardian caught
up with De Leon to discuss his experiences thus far in trying
to turn the plastics industry on its head.
De Leon traces his interest in getting involved in the busi-
ness of environmentally friendly products back to his time
as a management trainee in an environmental management
company more than 12 years ago.
"While I was employed there, I was involved in doing a
number of studies on environmental issues. It turned out that
plastics always came up as a major problem, both in terms of
stocking up the landfills and the effect that it would have on
drains and flooding."
De Leon---whose degree from Lindenwood University in
South Missouri is in international business---says that after
being confronted with the consistency of his findings on the
plastics problem, a light bulb went off in his head.
"I started to wonder about what could be done about this
problem. Most people seemed to be focused on recycling, but
what seemed to be lost was that recycled plastics still ended
up clogging drains and filling up the landfills.
"Recycled plastics didn't lead to a reduction on the overall
pollution effect associated with plastics."
The former Presentation College student added that around
the same time the plastics issue was occupying most of his
attention, a strange twist of fate occurred.
"Coincidentally, around that time, a friend of mine presented
me with a sheet of plastic film one afternoon and asked me to
guess what it was. I said 'plastic obviously' and he laughed."
After the guessing game ended, De Leon said he was shocked
to find out that the material that looked like plastic wrap was,
in fact, paper.
"I didn't believe it until I saw the box it came in and the
ingredients read plant cellulose. To me, it looked 100 per cent
plastic, but it wasn't," the entrepreneur said in an amused tone.
Soon after this and a heavy dose of research, De Leon in-
corporated his company in 2007. Ever since he has been on a
quest to make all plastic products 100 per cent biodegradable.
Questioned about what makes his product different from
what currently exists on the market, De Leon highlighted that
not all plastics were created the same.
"In the market today we have regular plastics, we have pho-
to-degradables, oxo-degradables and polylactic acid (PLA's).
These items are compostable, but not biodegradable unless
they are placed in a specific type of composting environ-
ment," he said.
De Leon said the additive his company supplied made bi-
odegradation possible in any environment.
"Our unique biodegradable additive allows plastics to re-
tain all their psychical properties but to become 100 per cent
biodegradable when disposed of thus causing no long-term
harm to the environment."
Commenting on whether manufacturers would
incur any additional costs in the process of
applying his company's plastic additive, De
Leon noted that it was nominal.
"Using our additive, there is roughly a two
to three per cent increase in costs which, in
real terms, could translate to half of a cent on a PET bottle,
and on a styrofoam box roughly one cent depending on the
weight. One gramme of our additive goes into 100 grammes
The struggle to win hearts and minds in his quest to trans-
form the plastics industry has not been an easy one
"For the first six year I contacted every plastic manufacturer
and consumer I could find in Trinidad while running tests on
as many products as I could; bottles, film, cutlery, plastic bags
and Styrofoam containers.
"Despite this, and despite offering a competitive solution
to the plastic pollution problem, the answer always seemed to
be the same: 'We love your product, great concept, but there
is no government mandate so we are not doing it'."
It is in this regard that De Leon has been advocating legis-
lative changes that would have a real impact in shifting the
use of plastics and their disposal.
"Some of the issues are being addressed, but the legislative
agenda must be established that would effectively lead to how
we deal with plastics ; are a major pollutant in our country.
More concerted effort is required to move this process forward"
Businessman out to
change plastics industry
DWIGHT DE LEON
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