Safer Chemistry - 2017 in Review
Safer Made was Born: We had our first close in February with Forsythia Foundation as our anchor investor. We had a second closing in June, joined by Target. We completed our first investment in Ecologic Brands in August. People want safer products and brands are looking for safer technologies. We invest in teams that tell a unique story, have the potential to change their sectors, and protect our health and natural world. Join us!
Retailer action: Target, Walmart, CVS, Costco, Home Depot, and Best Buy announced new or updated chemicals policies in 2017, setting goals, banning chemicals, and improving transparency. Retailers continue to raise the bar for safer chemistry. Do they know something?
Evidence of harm: A study led by Phil Landrigan, one of the world's leading advocates of children's health, published by The Lancet’s Commission on pollution and health finds that that diseases caused by pollution were responsible for three times more deaths than from AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria combined, and 15 times more than from all wars and other forms of violence. Bad!
Consumer right to know: California adopted the Cleaning Product Right to Know Act which requires all companies selling cleaning products in California to disclose their ingredients, making California the first state to require such disclosures. As California goes, so goes the nation.
Perfluorinated chemistry is out: DuPont and Chemours lost lawsuits brought by the residents of the Ohio River valley early this year to the tune of $921 million (more details in the Devil We Know). Many outdoor brands including Patagonia, Northface, Columbia, Vaude, and Fjällräven, as well as Target, have pledged to remove perfluorinated chemicals from their apparel products. Several early stage companies including Green Theme International, Dropel and Beyond Surface Technologies, as well as incumbents Chemours and W.L.Gore, are working on or have launched fluorine-free technologies. Fluorinated coatings in food packaging and drinking water are also on their way out. And you can expect more movement on perfluorinated additives in cosmetics and housewares next year. See you never, PFCs!
Plastic, the material we love to hate: Plastic packaging is everywhere. Plastic packaging is lightweight, durable, and it is also a great moisture barrier. Unfortunately it pollutes waterways and oceans. States and municipalities are taking action to limit the use of plastic bags and expanded polystyrene packaging. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation and The Schmidt Family Foundation joined forces to offer a 2 million dollar prize for innovations in packaging and recycling. LEGO is looking for new bricks. Reebok is looking for new soles. BASF and Coke backed bio-based versions of PET. Pepsi invested in Danimer, making marine degradable PHAs. L'Oréal and Carbios partnered to support bio-recycling. “Bio-plastics!”
Notable exits: Amazon bought Wholefoods for $13.7 billion. SC Johnson acquired Method, and its European sister brand Ecover. Procter & Gamble bought Native Deodorant for $100 million cash (Native Deodorant is a two-year-old company selling natural ingredients based deodorants online).
Financing trends: We saw 1.7 billion dollars invested in equity financing rounds into startup companies bringing safer chemicals and products to market. Safer consumer products garnered the largest number of deals (14), while the largest amount of capital was focused on synthetic biology (Ginko Bioworks and Bolt Threads raised a combined $381 million). We are excited about the increasing investor attention and the opportunities we see in the safer chemistry space.
Safer Made at Outdoor Retailer in January
Safer Made and the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) are hosting the inaugural Sustainability Convergence event that will highlight startups working at the intersection of chemistry, materials and innovation in outdoor gear and apparel. Sustainability Convergence events provide a space for learning and connection around big issues the industry is facing, in an effort to facilitate connections that will drive innovation addressing key shared challenges and reducing the industry’s impacts.
The event will be in the afternoon of January 23rd, before the main Outdoor Retailer Winter Market event later that week. You can find more information about the OIA sustainability working group meeting, and register here.
Safer Chemistry and Safer Made in GreenBiz
People want safer products and that makes safer chemistry an investment opportunity, says Marty in a recent GreenBiz article.
The Devil We Know, a documentary examining perfluorinated compounds (PFC’s) pollution of our drinking water supplies has been selected for the 2018 Sundance film festival. Get your popcorn (not from a microwavable bag though)!
Bolt Threads, an Emeryville, Ca.-based materials company that's spinning microbes into spider silk, is raising a $106 million round.
Oros Apparel, a Cincinnati, Oh.-based company that uses NASA insulation technology, aerogel, in its outerwear, has raised $2 million in seed financing.
Carbon, a Redwood City, Ca.-based digital 3D manufacturing company that develops both printers and resins, has raised a $200 million in a Series D financing.
Daily Harvest, a New York-based subscription service specializing in frozen, plant-based, one-step-prep foods, has raised $43 million in a Series B financing.
Ginkgo Bioworks, a Boston-based synthetic biology startup whose microbial platform makes everything form flavors and fragrances to fertilizer replacements, has raised $275 million in a Series D financing.
Indigo Agriculture, a Boston-based startup developer of microbes that help improve their crop yield, has raised $203 million in a Series D financing.
Powerful, a Miami based food and beverage company that markets all-natural, high-protein products, has raised $4 million in a Series B financing.
Ceres Imaging, an Oakland based company at work on a technology that helps farmers conserve water and fertilizer and improve yields, has added $2.5 million to a previously closed $5 million Series A round.
Amastan Technologies, a Ma.-based company whose microwave plasma manufacturing technology produces advanced materials in a safer process, raised $13.85 million in a Series B financing.
Toxic Toys to take off your holiday wish list.
Peer-Reviewed Kitchen trick: Wash fruits and veggies with baking soda to remove pesticides.
Super strong, self-healing fiber inspired by Mussels.