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Green Boom: Introducing Biodegradable, oil only absorbents and disrupting the Oil Spill Industry

Dr. Sudhir Sharma

Co-Founder and CEO

Green Boom Corp


Brian Prokes

(407) 592-9259

Interview conducted by:

Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor

CEOCFO Magazine

Published – February 22, 2021

CEOCFO: Dr. Sharma, the tagline on the Green Boom site is, “Reinventing oil only absorbents”. Would you tell us about oil only absorbents and why they need to be reinvented?

Dr. Sharma: Oil-only absorbents are used for cleaning up oil spills. When I mention ‘oil spill’, I think what comes to mind is something like the gulf oil spill or Exxon Valdez oil spill; large catastrophic ones that are in everyone’s memory. However, smaller spills happen on a daily basis and the materials used to clean them are basically single-use plastics that are from a commonly used plastic called polypropylene. They end up in a landfill where they sit forever and never biodegrade and the industry has been doing this for fifty odd years, until the introduction of Green Boom.

What we have done is that we created technologies that we can use as biodegradable materials that are derived from by-product agricultural materials that behave exactly like polypropylene, used for cleanup but in the end are biodegradable. This is a first in this market especially given the fact that it is made from biomaterials, but it is also completely water repellent and only absorbs the oil and will still biodegrade.

CEOCFO: Have people been looking for a better way?

Dr. Sharma: People have because there are some materials in the market that claim to do the same thing but unfortunately, we have found that they do not really function in the field as well as people would like. They absorb water and do not have very good capacity so they are not very practical to use. There had not been a good solution in the market and that is why Green Boom was created. We believe that our revolutionary products are going to disrupt the oil spill industry. It’s also important to note that our green products are cost-comparative, readily available and perform as well as or better than their conventional counterparts.

CEOCFO: How did you come about the process?  How did you decide which materials might work? How much testing went into getting the final product you have today?

Dr. Sharma: With my PhD work and even my undergraduate degree, a lot of the work focused around using biomaterials especially cellulose-based biomaterials derived from plants as byproduct or we use them directly. A big focus has been on research and we needed to find materials to replace single-use plastics with more sustainable materials. That has been the broad direction of my research.

In terms of what to use and how long it took, it took about a year-and-a-half, almost two years to go from a concept stage where we came up with some ideas and did some testing in a lab and figured out what would work, and that we could make a cost-effective price point, source enough material and then go into large production and do some tough things. That is how we came up with the final products.

CEOCFO: According to the Green Boom site it is very rapid as well!

Dr. Sharma: Yes, we designed the materials to very quickly absorb the oil and this is important when people are doing large cleanups because they want to be able to get the oil absorbed quickly, replace it with a new set of materials and move out the absorbed spent materials quickly. Not only does it help in making the cleanup process faster for the response organization, it might also help them save on costs and time spent at the site.

CEOCFO: Would cleanup companies be your customers; might there be some larger companies that have their own staff?  

Dr. Sharma: It is a bit of both. Anyone that has the potential to create a spill, there are mandates depending upon where they are located for state or OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Act) based mandates, which has regulations on how much spill absorbent they need to keep on hand to mitigate any spills that they may create. If the spills are larger than their staff can handle, they will usually hire what is called an OSRO or Oil Spill Response Organization that will come out with the materials and do the cleanup. Both organizations in this case are the customers.

CEOCFO: How are you reaching out and what has been the response from potential customers?

Dr. Sharma: The response has been quite good. We have been using a lot of digital marketing strategies, and sending out samples, followed by quite a few pilots with both response organizations. The responses are quite tremendous. Every project team that has used our material and has tested them, has told us that our materials are superior not only in performance, but they found that they are much sturdier than the materials they use now, they do not tear easily, they can undergo quite a bit of rough handling without tearing apart because apparently that was a big problem with existing materials.

CEOCFO: Can these materials be stored; is there a shelf life?

Dr. Sharma: They can be stored normally just like any other material that is stored. We estimate the shelf life to be between seven to ten years which is quite common in a normal warehousing facility.

CEOCFO: How does the cost compare?

Dr. Sharma: We are doing our best to match existing market prices, so for customers we will try to match whatever they are buying today. We have some published prices that match directly what competitors sell.

CEOCFO: What type of inventory do you need to maintain?

Dr. Sharma: We maintain both inventory and unfinished goods that would be manufactured to order. Usually, we maintain about every ten days of inventory for orders and then maybe ninety days-worth of unfinished inventory that would be manufactured at any time.

CEOCFO: What is your geographic reach today and do you see that changing?

Dr. Sharma: As of today, we are only selling in the United States but we do have upcoming distribution agreements in Europe and Southeast Asia which should materialize in the next three months or so.

CEOCFO: You recently announced the USDA Certified bio-based product certification. How important is that; are people paying attention?

Dr. Sharma: The USDA BioPreferred Program is a very important program for materials and products such as ours. The USDA BioPreferred Program has third-party labs that will test materials and certify that your claims about the materials being biomass and biodegradable are accurate. They will test and give you certifications. Our materials are 100% Biomass, and are the only oil-only absorbents in that category.

Secondly, this is a program started by the USDA to help increase business in the agricultural community, which is something we help with because we use a lot of agricultural byproducts.

Thirdly, there are both federal and state mandates, some states have executive orders and other guidelines to purchase bio preferred program materials that have been certified. This has been good for private customers also because they know what the program is. It is helpful for them to talk to their customers that may be a state or federal agency or other large companies that care about using more sustainable and green products.

CEOCFO: Do you see the new administration focus on environmental concerns, as helpful for you, or do you find that companies have been trying to do better in that realm anyway?

Dr. Sharma: I think companies have been trying to do better in that case anyway. I think most companies have realized or are slowly realizing that using more sustainable products is not only good for the environment but also good for them and for supporting businesses that produce such products because they are usually coming from agricultural byproducts or are directly biomaterials from forestry, so that helps with other industries as well. I think businesses have been focusing on these initiatives by themselves.

CEOCFO: Are you seeking funding, investment, partnerships, as you move forward?

Dr. Sharma: We are not seeking funding at this point but we are seeking partnerships with companies that are either in the oil spill response space or companies that manufacture and distribute other products in the industry that would want to increase their green initiative or line of products.

CEOCFO: There are many new ideas to look at in sustainable and environmentally-friendly products, why pay attention to Green Boom?

Dr. Sharma: I think Green Boom, in the large scheme of things, at first glance someone in the industry might not understand the gravity of, and I do not have a good estimate on the exact number but in the US the industry is worth about $2 or $3 billion annually. We put about $2 or $3 billion of plastic in landfills around the country and we are trying to replace that with a biodegradable material. That is going to have a huge impact on reducing how much waste is created and stored in our landfills in the coming years.

We are focusing quite heavily on plastic straws. A straw weighs less than an ounce but there is a lot of focus on it because it is a very visible thing on what happens. These products do not have such a visible impact but they do have a large impact in terms of how much weight there is in them.

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“We believe that our revolutionary products are going to disrupt the oil spill industry. It’s also important to note that our green products are cost-comparative, readily available and perform as well as or better than their conventional counterparts.” Dr. Sudhir Sharma