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August 2018

Would You Like Some PFCs On That Chicken?

A statement published in July this year by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) outlines the risks to children’s health from several chemical classes found in food, including bisphenols, phthalates, perfluoroalkyl chemicals (PFCs), perchlorate, artificial food colors, and nitrates/nitrites. Three of these top six chemical classes of concern (Bisphenols, Phthalates, and PFCs) are getting into our food from the packaging.

PFCs for example get into food mostly from paper packaging. PFCs are added to otherwise better for the natural world paper products to improve oil and water barrier properties and make them more competitive with plastic products. In some cases brands and retailers are not even aware of the presence of PFCs in their products.

PFCs alternatives are on our "innovation wanted" list at Safer Made. One of the companies working on this issue is RePurpose, the leading brand of eco-conscious single use household items in US retail. They will be rolling out PFCs free products later this year or early next year. They also have compostable straws which is becoming big (see below for more on straw bans). Next time you plan a family or friends event -- look for RePurpose.

Another company working on PFC alternatives is Grow Plastics, developing a proprietary technology to foam sheets of poly-lactic acid polymer enabling the manufacturing of safer and compostable single use food packaging competitive in price and performance with paper and expanded polystyrene products.

Safer Strippers

Low VOC, safer paints are available but options are limited for removing old paints. Traditional paint strippers rely on methylene chloride, a known carcinogen, or on N-Methylpyrrolidone (NMP), a developmental toxin. At least 64 people have been killed by acute methylene chloride exposure since 1980.

Home Depot and Lowe’s agreed earlier this summer to remove products containing methylene chloride and NMP from their shelves, by the end of the year. One of the companies working in this space is Remooble, currently on the market with a safer whiteboard cleaner but planning to add other products.

Where Do the New Bag/Straw Bans Take Us?

High profile bans of straws and bags in CA, HI, FL, NJ, and WA have successfully raised awareness of the impact that waste plastic can have on marine and coastal habitat. They have also spurred changes at major corporations including Starbucks, Bon Appétit Management Company, Marriott Hotels, Alaska Airlines, and American Airlines who will all phase out plastic straws.

This shift in demand likely catalyzed the recent acquisition of Aardvark® Straws, the sole U.S. producer of paper straws by Hoffmaster Group, Inc., a U.S.-based manufacturer of disposable tableware. Paper straws are selling at 5 times the cost of plastic.

In 2015, about 448 million metric tons of plastic were produced worldwide of which about 180 million metric tons were destined for single use. According to some estimates we use as many as 500 million straws every day in the United States, which would account for about 0.04% of the world’s single use plastic. Adding supermarket plastic bags, with an estimated use of about 10 per day per person in the US, we would account for 3.4 % of the world’s single-use plastic.

We want a world with zero plastic pollution, but single use plastics and packaging are convenient and here to stay. There is also no silver bullet sustainable material that will replace persistent plastics in all applications. How do we solve for this? Through an “all of the above” approach that promotes new, safer materials alternative to persistent plastics, reduces the amount of plastic used through design changes, and maximizes the reuse and recycling rates, all while meeting functional needs and consumer expectations at the same time.


Aclima, developing large scale sensor networks to track air quality has raised $24 million.

Apeel, a developer of plant-based coatings to extend produce freshness, raised $70 million.

Bext360, a supply chain traceability software platform has raised $2.2 million.

Carpe, a startup selling antiperspirant for sweaty hands and feet, raised $2.3 million.

Colorescience, a skincare and sunscreen better for you brand has raised $4 million.

Clare, a direct-to-consumer eco-conscious paint brand, has raised $2 million.

Ceres Imaging, an aerial imaging technology company helping farmers use less water and fertilizer and improve yields, raised $25 million.

Lygos, a developer of catalysts that convert agricultural feedstocks into commodity chemicals raised $15.5 million.

Outdoor Voices, a manufacturer of workout apparel, is raising $34 million.

Parachute, a direct to consumer linens and towels brand, raised $30 million.

PegEx, a hazardous waste removal platform, raised $8 million.

Rael, an organic feminine care brand raised $2.1 million.

The Honest Company, a personal care and baby product business sold a minority stake to private equity firm L Catteron for $200 million.

Vestaron Corp. commercializing biopesticides safer for the natural world is raising $12 million.

Food Financings

Financings in the food space continue at the fast pace supporting the growth of the consumer health and wellness category.

Ample Foods a direct-to-consumer company that sells meal replacement powders, raised a $2million.

BrightFarms, an operator of greenhouse/vertical farms, raised $55 million.

Califia Farms, maker of plant-based beverages raised over $50 million.

Chloe's Fruit, a producer of natural frozen fruit treats, raised a $9.3 million.

CrowdCow, a company that connects consumers to farmers and lets them order specific cuts of specific animals raised an $8 million.

DouxMatok, an Israeli company making healthier sugar alternatives signed a partnership agreement with Sudzucker to sell their sweeteners in the European market.

Good Eggs, an online market that delivers fresh groceries, has raised $50 million.

GoodBelly Probiotics, a maker of probiotic digestion aids, raised $12 million.

Impossible Foods, another plant protein startup received full FDA approval for its ingredients.

Manus Bio, a company developing plant based protein ingredients, raised $10million.

Mosa Meat, a lab-grown meat company, raised $8.8 million.

REBBL, a producer of organic coconut-milk "elixers," raised $20 million.

Rethink Brands, a company that sells a zero-calorie/sodium/sugar boxed water for kids, raised $6.7 million.


Procter & Gamble acquired health and wellness focused beauty brand First Aid Beauty for $250 million.

Rocky Mountain High Brands acquired of BFIT Brands, producers of the whey protein energy drink FitWhey.

1908 brands acquired prenatal and lactation nutrition brand Bundle Organics.

Johnson & Johnson acquired Zarbee's Naturals, makers of over-the-counter natural cough syrups, vitamins, and supplements for kids.

Premium Brands Holdings Corp. acquired a 62.6% interest in Yorkshire Valley Farms, selling organic chicken products.

Dean Foods acquired flaxmilk and dairy-free yogurt startup Good Karma Foods.

Tate & Lyle acquired 15% of stevia producer Sweet Green Fields.

Hoffmaster Group acquired domestic maker of paper straws Aardvark Straws.

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