Oklahoma entrepreneur invents plant-based ‘Plastix’Published: Friday, January 22, 2021 By: Jim Stafford Source: The Journal Record
Perry is African American and female with no manufacturing background. Perhaps it’s no surprise that, when she reached out to Oklahoma’s manufacturing community for assistance, there was lukewarm response.
“When I started on this journey, I thought having access to what I needed was going to be easy in Oklahoma,” she said. “It was not.”
So, she found a company in Texas that would compound her plant resin into pellets that could be used in the process.
Eventually, Perry perfected a process that resulted in usable plastic-alternative straws and contracted with a straw manufacturer, GCA Products Inc., in Dallas.
“We’ve had a ton of people come in and say they have the next-best resin,” said Hunter Dunlap, vice president of operations for GCA Products. “But Sharina is one of the only ones that stayed alive. Through Sharina’s dedication and partnership, we are actually producing straws as we speak for (food product distributor) Ben E. Keith.”
Perry also established a relationship with Poly Films Inc., which has successfully used her plant-based material to produce what are known in the industry as blown plastic bags.
Kevin McGehee, vice president of Poly Films, guided the OIM group on a tour to watch the bags as they were produced, handing out finished product as souvenirs. Poly Films is a family-owned manufacturer that produces plastic bags and other products for a wide range of clients.
The bottom line, Perry said, is that she has created a business model that benefits farmers, processors, manufacturers and distributors. The crops she uses are high-yield “rotational” crops often used to replenish the soil after wheat or corn has been grown on it.
“It’s just kind of a win-win-win all the way down,” GCA’s Hunter said. “We saw that early on and decided to start the partnership with Sharina. It’s gone very well.”
Perry shared some potential uses for her plastic alternative in addition to single-use straws and plastic bags. That includes plastic cutlery, building materials, roofing products and more – even diapers.
“There are so many lanes our products can be used in,” she said. “It’s bigger than me. I could have sold this a long time ago. I get offers all the time.”
Before the meeting ended, representatives from the Oklahoma Innovation Model eagerly discussed ways to connect Perry with more Oklahoma manufacturers and industries such as aerospace.
“This has been fantastic,” said Dan Luton, OCAST programs director. “Not only the technology and the product, but also your story and how it got here. There are people who could use your product now; they just don’t know