Two SMU start-ups addressing plastic waste emerged as winners at HSBC Swing for the Game Changers competition
Magorium, co-founded by SMU final-year student Oh Chu Xian, and Crunch Cutlery, co-founded by SMU alumna Anna Lam, have emerged as winners at the HSBC Swing for the Game Changers 2021 competition. The competition was held in conjunction with HSBC Women’s World Championship which concluded on 2 May at the Sentosa Golf Club in Singapore.
Open to tertiary students in Singapore, the competition recognises Singapore’s very own game changers by inspiring changemakers to be forward looking and ambitious, and to strive towards creating a better and more sustainable future for all.
The competition was organised along the key themes of Sustainability, Grassroots, and Sports. The participating teams were assessed by a panel of esteemed judges on the originality of idea, spirit of sustainability, benefits to the community, their ambition and promise of future growth.
On winning the competition, Magorium and Crunch Cutlery will receive support from HSBC to attain their development goals.
Co-founded by Anna Lam (LLB, Class of 2015), Crunch Cutlery is currently incubated under the Business Innovations Generator Incubation Programme offered by the Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (IIE) at SMU.
A cooking enthusiast, Anna first came across edible cutlery five years ago and has been very much attracted to the idea. In August last year, she decided to set up a home-based business to produce edible cutlery.
The result is the first start-up in Southeast Asia to address the problems of plastic waste and inadequate nutrition among urban dwellers with a single product.
Every year, Singaporeans throw away 500 million utensils of disposable cutlery items. Each Crunch Cutlery used would result in one less plastic cutlery being used, thereby helping to reduce plastic pollution. In addition, the 100% edible cutleries are packed with flaxseed, chia seeds and whole wheat, giving a boost of Omega 3, Vitamin B3, Lignans and Fibre with every bite. The edible spoons come in flavours of Pink Strawberry, Green Tea and Beetroot Whole Wheat.
Crunch Cutlery has since grown into a three-person start-up and has achieved impressive growth. Its products are available in selected restaurants.
For the short term, the start-up will focus on partnering with central kitchens and baking facilities to scale production from the current 500 units per month to over 2,000 units.
For the long term, it plans to develop an innovative tech solution to automate the mixing, mounding and baking process. With automated manufacturing, it will be able to concentrate on food innovation to develop unique shapes, tastes and formulation to diversify its product range. The goal is to expand Crunch Cutlery in the Asia-Oceania region over the next three years.
Anna said, “Crunch Cutlery would like to thank HSBC for featuring and supporting our product! We have also greatly benefited from the SMU IIE’s incubation programme through experienced mentorships and workshops geared towards brand building. A very special thanks to our account manager Donna who has been supporting us from the start. For our next phase, we look forward to experimenting with different flavours to surprise and delight our fellow Singaporeans. Do keep an eye out for our new products!”
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Magorium was founded in August 2019 by Oh Chu Xian, a final-year student at the Lee Kong Chian School of Business, and Adriel Ng, a graduate of the School of Accountancy. The start-up has completed the Business Innovations Generator Incubation Programme offered by the Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at SMU.
According to NEA, Singapore generated 868,000 tons of plastic in 2020, of which only 4% was recycled. Globally, plastic waste is a growing problem, and there’s a dearth of plastic recycling solutions.
Magorium was started when Chu Xian and her team developed a “One-Solution to Two Problems” proprietary technology to recycle plastic waste, from which they created a new green construction material for building road infrastructure. Their new material seeks to substitute a portion of traditional crude derived bitumen for road construction. By doing so, the technology not only effectively recycles plastic waste, it also reduces the consumption of finite resources and reduces carbon emission from the production of traditional bitumen.
The solution is effective in recycling even contaminated and mixed plastic waste, the most problematic streams which few technologies can handle. This makes their technology not only more effective as a recycling solution, but also commercially viable. Additionally, once plastic waste is converted into the new material, it exists as the only cost-effective bitumen substitute for road construction to date.
Both the technologies and product are a first in Singapore and within the Asia Pacific region. Already, the product has been used to lay roads on a factory site in Tuas and a condominium in Marymount.
The start-up has garnered a number of accolades since its founding, including winning the Startup X: Waste 20/20 Competition, the Best Sustainable Solutions Category of Technode Innovations Award 2020, and a regional finalist of Extreme Tech Challenge (XTC) 2021 organised by SGInnovate.
In the short term, Magorium is working towards commercialising the technology in Singapore and building an infrastructure to viably recycle plastic waste into a green material. This green material will then go towards a more sustainable construction scene in Singapore.
In the long term, it is looking to scale internationally, especially in the Southeast Asian countries where there is an immense amount of plastic waste leakage into the environment. Magorium hopes that its technology can provide these countries with a commercially viable solution to their plastic waste problem, while concurrently build greener roads with the new waste-converted material.
Chu Xian said, “This is more than a competition win to us, it is a validation of the environmental causes Magorium stands for. While I am happy with the win, I am also extremely heartened. Being supported by HSBC’s Game Changers campaign reflects both the organisation’s and general public’s increasing concerns with the plastic waste issue, as well as the indiscriminate consumption of finite resources for infrastructure construction.
“Apart from HSBC's support, we also benefited greatly from the IIE incubation programme at SMU. Being a first-time founder, the incubation programme exposed me to a range of valuable network and incredible mentorship since the start of my entrepreneurship journey.”