Go ahead and toss that empty plastic bottle on the ground.

Well, perhaps not yet, but if Solegear Bioplastics Inc.’s line of plant-based plastics gain traction, littering eventually may not be the detestable exercise it is today.

With over 550 billion pounds of oil-based plastics produced each year (more than the weight of every human on the planet), of which less than 15 percent are actually recycled, Solegear’s naturally derived and compostable plastics were developed using green chemistry principles and are backed by international patents.

Founded in 2006, the North Vancouver-based company has received numerous awards and grants since coming out of stealth mode in 2010, including $125,000 from the 2010 BCIC-New Ventures Competition, and Frost & Sullivan’s North American Award for New Product Innovation of 2010.

Can Plastic be Fantastic?

Its first product, Polysole, is a non-toxic plastic derived entirely from plants and organic material that can biodegrade entirely within a year.

Its most recent invention, Traverse, is a composite of conventional plastic and plant fibres.

Solegear’s interesting market advantage is that its bioplastics behave at a molecular level just like any common oil-based plastic. In other words, Solegear’s product has the right properties industry is looking for in commercial plastics – which in the past had been a huge hurdle for bioplastic adoption.

That is until they are introduced to the right environment, one made up of water, heat and soil – at which point they begin to break down.

The company, which sells its bioplastics in the form of pellets to manufacturers, had a sales pipeline worth more than $4,000,000 in 2011, working with big name companies such as Fisher Price, Petstages, Avery Dennison, LEGO, BestBuy and Procter&Gamble.

Refreshingly Delicious Market Potential

The company has raised hundreds of thousands of piecemeal capital, and is seeking to raise major dollars in the multi-million-dollar range.

Numerous research reports peg the bioplastics industry to grow anywhere from 30 percent to 50 percent in the coming years.

Another good sign for bioplastics producers: Pepsi and Coca-Cola have both started promoting their own lines of partially plant-based plastic bottles.

Click here for FREE email alerts from Inside IPO >>

Photo: Seabamirum via Flickr

This is a guest post.

Elena Verlee is founder of Cross Border Communications, a technology PR agency based in Vancouver and Silicon Valley working with a range of clients from high-growth startups to billion dollar companies. A passionate publicist with two decades of brand building experience, Elena also blogs at PR in Your Pajamas, an award-winning site that helps entrepreneurs and smaller businesses who can’t afford a publicist to get heard, get known and get talked about so they can change the world. Elena’s blog is named by PRWeb as one of “25 Essential PR Blogs You Should Be Reading” and syndicated by the Visa Business Network to over 100,000 members. Elena has also been named twice in a Forbes list as one of “20 Women for Entrepreneurs to Follow on Twitter.”

Jackie Peterson is a scientist turned business communicator. She is Director of Client Services atCross Border Communications and helps clients translate highly technical ideas into easily understandable media-worthy stories. Jackie has an unparalleled network of media contacts and is passionate about attracting investor interest to deserving but neglected companies. Jackie started her career with Pengrowth Energy Trust’s PR team then moved on to Business Development in their M&A division during which time the Trust completed over $2 billion in acquisitions, doubling their market cap. Having lived in Montreal, Calgary and Victoria, Jackie now calls Vancouver home.