The International Galalith Gesellschaft Hoff and Compan

The origin of synthetic plastic started back in 1907 by Leo Baekeland who invented the world’s first fully synthetic plastic which is bakelite. The development of plastics has evolved from the use of natural plastic materials to the use of chemically modified. The word plastic derives from the Greek word, plastikos which means capable of being shaped or moulded. Plastics has been gradually developed from the use of natural plastic materials to the use of chemically modified to finally to a completely synthetic molecule. The early days plastic were bio-derived materials which are organic polymers such as egg and blood proteins. After World War I, the improvements in chemical technology led to an explosion in new forms of plastics. The few earliest polymers were polystyrene, polyvinyl chloride then polyethylene.


The origin of casein plastic started back in the 20th century by precipitating the protein in cows milk. The Ancient Egyptians used Casein as a fixative for pigments in wall paintings. Its use as a substitute for horn in the sixteenth century was reported by a Bavarian monk, Wolfgang Seidel. Before the end of the 19th century, where it is used as the basis of a solid plastics material, it has been used as a constituent in various glues. Krisch, head of a large firm of printers in Hanover experimented with casein to make a washable white board for replacing the slates used in school. On July 15th 1899, Krisch collaborated with Adolf Spitteler to file a patent for “plastic compositions” in Germany.

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Firms in Germany and in France (Pellerin and Orosdi) took up the patent, and the product was introduced under the trade name Galalith. It was first shown at the Paris Universal Exhibition in 1900. The International Galalith Gesellschaft Hoff and Compan was formed when the two companies merged in 1904, developing a process with dried casein granules, known as the dry process, which became the universally adopted method for casein plastics manufacture and remained virtually unchanged.


On the other hand, patented in Britain 1909, a wet process starting with milk curds with the material name, Syrolit was manufactured by the factory with the same name. but it went bankrupt in 1913. A new company, Erinoid was established, creating a product with the same name using the dry process. In World war I the material found a market as supplies of Galalith were cut off. BX Plastics introduced Lactoid in 1922, making rod, button blanks and knitting needles from 1930.Young and Wolf pioneered the slicing of casein button blanks from rod. Charles Horner Ltd, like Young & Wolf, also produced casein plastics while taking on the name Dorcasine. They made mainly knitting needles, button blanks and rods while.

These four British manufacturers (Erinoid, BX Plastics, Young and Wolf, and Charles Horner Ltd.) formed the Casein Plastics Association (until 1938 it was called the Artificial Horn Manufacturers Association). Argentina provided supplies of raw casein at the commencement of World War II when it was no longer obtainable from Europe. In 1944, The Casein Plastics Joint Development Association was formed by the CPA cooperating with The Knitting Pin Association and the Casein Button Manufacturers Association and this cooperation led to the improvement of the process to manufacture casein granules. With the co-operation of the New Zealand and Norwegian dairies, a casein of improved quality with a better base colour was born.Casein plastic is still under production today but it is used as an aid as glue in book binding and also serving as a glaze for paper.The benefits of using casein plastic compared to synthetic plastic can be a huge impact on the environment. Using casein plastic can lower the petroleum consumption since oil in one of the main ingredients in traditional plastic materials. It can cause so much harm due to the waste produced during the refinement process and the harmful method used to extract oil from the earth. Next, landfills can be smaller when casein plastic is used due to its decompose property, reducing the amount of total waste in landfills. Since petroleum-based plastics do not breakdown quickly, resulting in landfills that only grow larger in time. Even when petroleum-based plastics do start to degrade, it can actually lead to potentially toxic chemicals to leak into the water supplies.


But there are some drawbacks in using casein plastic compared petroleum-based plastics. Casein is an expensive raw material due to the low production compared to petroleum which will cause the market value of casein plastic to be high. Next, casein plastic does not have a high durability property compared to petroleum-based plastic which can be quite difficult when handling it without proper care. Thirdly, casein plastic will cause an issue to those that are lactose intolerance as the casein properties might cause allergic reaction on them as well as a threat for them if there is no advanced notice about the use of it.


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