|▲ Photo courtesy of JPDC|
A social venture enterprise founded with support from Jeju Special Self-Governing Province Development Co. (JPDC) is garnering attention for developing an eco-friendly barley straw using Jeju-grown barley.
JPDC announced that the social venture “Be Earth,” which was discovered through JPDC’s creative business idea contest, “The Green Jeju Social Living Lab That I Drew,” successfully developed and commercialized a barley straw to replace plastic straws.
Previously, JPDC had conducted the JPDC Creative Business Idea Contest in 2019 on the theme of startup or project ideas to resolve plastic pollution.
At the time, Be Earth won the contest upon showcasing its idea to develop an eco-friendly barley straw. JPDC then sought to assist Be Earth by providing expert mentoring and commercialization support through the introduction of the “Living Lab” method, in which citizens suggest ideas and the local community and government cooperate to find corresponding solutions.
Be Earth’s barley straw was inspired by the fact that the inside of a barley stem is empty like a straw. It comprises an alternative straw manufactured in an eco-friendly manner using barley stem.
Jeju barley is known for its outstanding quality, but its stem had no use and was discarded as waste. However, Be Earth linked its barley straw idea to Jeju barley farms through JPDC’s startup mentoring in order to secure a supply of quality barley stem and conduct a barley straw trial program. By producing a barley straw-making kit and conducting a trial with the students of a Seoul-based elementary school, Be Earth provided a practical experience of environmental protection, subsequently receiving a positive response.
Be Earth then established an automated production process through the establishment of a system to automatically cut barley segments by developing a deep learning-based automatic recognition technology for barley segments in order to lower the product price to allow more consumers to buy it more easily. The company expects to be able to automatically produce one barley straw every five seconds in the future, as the production process becomes further advanced.
Be Earth enhanced the quality of its product as it passed the product safety test for the barley straws produced this year, secured a patent for producing barley straws and applied for a trademark, subsequently selling out the entire production volume.
JPDC President Kim Jeong-hak commented, “Social venture companies aim to solve social problems, instead of solely focusing on corporate profits,” and added, “JPDC plans to actively support these efforts in order to further advance the ESG management regime.”
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