Women in STEM – Miranda Wang and Jeanny Yao
We’re excited to feature two people in our monthly blog recognizing the incredible achievements of Women in STEM. Miranda Wang and Jeanny Yao are the co-founders of BioCellection, a company that turns unrecyclable plastic waste into industrial chemicals that can be used to make cars, footwear, electronic goods, outdoor gear, and more.
A high school field trip to a waste transfer station in 2011 got friends Miranda and Jeanny wondering what could be done with all the plastic (polyethylene) waste in our oceans and landfills. To that end, they sought to develop a way to recycle plastic that would benefit the environment and be more cost efficient and sustainable than current alternatives.
Check out this YouTube video of Miranda and Jeanny from back in 2012 after they became inspired to research plastic recycling. As finalists for Canada’s top student biotechnology award, the 2012 Sanofi BioGENEius Challenge, you can watch them talk to a captive audience about breaking down plastics using soil bacteria.
Miranda earned her Bachelor of Science from McGill University and a Bachelor of Arts in Cell and Molecular Biology, Philosophy, and Engineering Entrepreneurship from the University of Pennsylvania.
Jeanny earned an Honours Bachelor of Science degree from Toronto University in Biochemistry and Environmental Science.
In 2015, while still attending college, Miranda and Jeanny joined forces to form a chemical technology company with help of grants and investments that would eventually total close to $10 million. “We needed to do something on our own and be able to create this circularity story outside of the academic environment,” says Jeanny.
Upcycling – creative reuse
According to Miranda, BioCellection transforms plastics using accelerated thermal-oxidative decomposition. “We’re taking a process that usually happens in nature for plastics over hundreds of years, but we shrink it down to less than 6 hours.” And instead of taking place in nature, all the work is done in the eco-friendly confines of a reactor.
The pair are currently making plans to develop a fully-commercial processing plant with the ability to recycle almost 50,000 tons of plastic waste, which could result in eliminating over 300,000 tons of CO₂ emissions while producing new products that can be continually recycled.
In 2019, Miranda and Jeanny were named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 list of Social Entrepreneurs, leveraging business smarts to save the world.
Forging new paths in hopes of protecting our environment, Miranda and Jeanny are a great example of the kind of tech leadership that Tynker loves and a true inspiration to the next generation of girls who are dreaming of a career in STEM. We can’t wait to see what the two of them will come up with next!