Laura Lopez |
Santa María la Real de Nieva (Segovia) (EFE).- The Segovian company Bioammo has a unique formula in the world to manufacture biodegradable cartridges for hunting and sport shooting, a recipe patented in fifty-two countries that has aroused interest of the American ammunition giant Winchester.
Based in the Segovian town of Santa María la Real de Nieva, with less than 900 registered inhabitants, this company was born from the idea that the now president of the company, Enrique López-Pozas, had a little over a decade ago.
As the businessman recounted in an interview with EFE, during his experience as director of hotel chains in Marbella and thanks to contact with many clients from northern Europe, he detected how the culture of waste recycling, saving of water or the reduction of the use of plastics.
In addition, because he is the son of a colonel and having “raised in the barracks”, he has been familiar with the world of weapons “since he was little” and, with this background, while playing a game of ‘airsoft’ one day, “the spark” jumped. seeing how the field was full of shot plastic balls.
“I said to myself, joe! If this was biodegradable it would be great,” recalls López-Pozas now, who after verifying that this did not exist, left his career in hotel management and began to study to develop the idea together with the center technological Andaltec.
A unique formula in the world for sustainable hunting
After eight years of research, they came up with the perfect formula to create these cartridges: instead of manufacturing them with plastics of fossil origin, like the rest, Bioammo’s are made up of compostable biopolymers.
This means that, once they fall to the ground, they completely disappear from the natural environment in a period of less than three years -compared to 550 years for plastic- as they are absorbed by bacteria, which prevents contamination of the field by microplastics.
The recipe for these cartridges, which the CEO of Bioammo, Manuel Galatas, compares to the Coca-Cola formula, is only owned by this company, whose offices frame some of the more than fifty patents that the company has registered in different countries.
A company “doomed to survive”
Although Bioammo was founded in 2015, the company did not have the product ready until January 2020, just before the pandemic hit, which was followed by a long period of sanitary restrictions such as the closure of shooting ranges and, in 2022, the supply crisis.
For all this, after a blank 2020, in 2021 they billed 3.6 million euros with a production of around 14.5 million cartridges and 2.9 million in 2022 with approximately twelve million units, all of it “working”. at very little gas”.
“The company was doomed to survive,” sums up Enrique López-Pozas, for whom it is “a true miracle” that the company has not “fallen” with the crises, behind which the support of shareholders is behind.
Since the initial investment of around 7 million euros, Bioammo has carried out four capital increases up to the 20 million that have been invested in total so far in the project, which has served, “above all, to get through the crisis.”
Now, finally, the president of the company is very optimistic about the future, with a clear horizon at last and great interest in the product from abroad.
Bioammo exports 90 percent of what it produces, most of it to the United States and, to a lesser extent, to the United Kingdom and other northern European markets such as Sweden, Denmark, Finland or the Netherlands, countries where hunting is either very present or there is more environmental sensitivity.
For Bioammo, Spain is still a minority market, although they also distribute their products in some points of sale such as Decathlon or El Corte Inglés.
Despite being a country where hunting is a more widespread practice than those in its surroundings, the company blames this point on the “lack of environmental awareness” since, in Spain, “people look more at the price” and these cartridges are 10 or 15 percent more expensive than traditional ones.
From Santa María la Real de Nieva to Illinois
The latest good news has come from the United States in the form of a great alliance for five years that Bioammo has signed with the ammunition manufacturer Winchester, which will distribute the Segovian cartridges in its more than 6,200 points of sale.
It is the first time that this American company, based in East Alton, in the state of Illinois, distributes products manufactured by another brand that is not its own and, also, thanks to this agreement, it will manufacture its own biodegradable cartridges with the components that Bioammo will provide you.
The general director of the company, Manuel Galatas, recounts his impressions after reaching the agreement: «We were surprised that they entered with such a strong commitment. They wanted to sack this world because they had not been able to reach this product.
Thanks to this drive and without neglecting its European customers, the company expects to manufacture 50 million cartridges this year for a value of 16 million euros and continue to grow until reaching 80 million units in 2024.
For López-Pozas, the alliance with Winchester translates into a seal of quality because the North American works with the highest quality standards in the industry and a “recognition” of the work of the entire workforce.
As a result of the new alliance, fifteen more employees will soon join the thirty people who already work there, most of them residents of Santa María la Real de Nieva who had no experience in the sector.
In the short term, they see their future in this town, despite having missed more help from public administrations: they have received a loan of one million euros from the Junta de Castilla y León and two grants from European funds that they have not yet received because they are subject to the creation of more jobs.
«Having patents in Spain is not rewarded, it is a frankly unknown subject. In the United States, you go with a patent and you are God and you are a man… here you go with a patent and they don’t even know what it is. By not being rewarded or valued, either it takes you a lot of years to achieve it or you end up leaving Spain, “analyzes López-Pozas.