PHA LA LAA!
Danimer (DNMR), one of the main producers of bio-based polymer PHA (polyhydroxyalkanoates), went public at the end of last year and is trading at a market cap of about $3Bn at the end of March. Danimer's investor presentation and prospectus offer their views on production capacity, costs, and market adoption. PHA production capacity will likely increase, adding to the current production capacity of PLA (poly lactic acid), the leading biobased, compostable polymer.
Will PHA complement or compete with PLA? Which polymer is better? PLA and PHA can be blended and the blends may work better in some applications, than the two taken separately. We believe a significant volume of the PHA will, at least initially, be blended with PLA. Blending also makes sense from an economic perspective as in the near term, PHA is likely to remain several times more expensive than PLA. PLA and PHA are part of the same family of biobased polyesters but there are some differences between them. A key one is PHA’s higher ability to biodegrade in the marine environment. This conclusion is based on studies using lab samples but generalizing it may be a bit premature. Biodegradability is influenced by many factors including molecular weight, crystallinity, physical shape, and additives used, and all degradability claims need to be tested on individual final products. We believe PLA and PHA are complementary and the eventual arrival of PHA production volume will be great news for the biopolymer market overall. We also expect PHA to grow relatively fast because it can be blended with PLA, and and also because PHA alone may work better in some applications such as textile fibers. Biobased polymers have a long way to grow. The world’s petroleum-based plastics volume is estimated somewhere between 300 and 400 million metric tons per year. We estimate PLA production capacity somewhere between 0.225 and 0.5 million metric tons per year, and the current PHA production capacity at lower than 0.02 million metric tons per year. Given also that they are mostly made from agricultural feedstocks, with the associated impacts on land and water, we don’t think biobased polymers should be thought of as one-to-one alternatives to plastics. Biobased plastics are just one of the potential solutions to plastics pollution. The best packaging is no packaging, if possible, followed by reusable packaging, if possible, followed by bio-based and/or biodegradable and/or recyclable packaging. The choices and tradeoffs will depend on the application and function, on economics, availability of alternatives, availability of end-of-life options, and on other variables.
Getting Textiles Out of Water
The textile industry’s water pollution issue has been highlighted by advocates and researchers. Some estimate that 20% of the world’s industrial water pollution can be attributed to the textiles industry. We are seeing innovation and partnerships that intend to address this.
Green Theme Technologies;(GTT) developed a new way to attach chemistry to fibers, initially used for PFAS-free durable water repellent finishing, now also extended to waterless dyeing. GTT’s technology has already been used by Black Diamond, Jack Wolfskin, and Marmot.
Another waterless dyeing and finishing innovator, Alchemie, announced a new round of financing earlier this year.
Fashion for Good’s most recent batch of startups includes two companies, Imogotech and NTX working to reduce the use of water in dyeing, and also three companies, Officina+39, Drywired, and Huue working to remove hazardous chemicals from dyeing and finishing processes.
Brands and existing technology and chemistry providers are also working to reduce water use.Ralph Lauren recently partnered with Dow Chemical, Huntsman, and other suppliers to develop a more efficient way to dye cotton. Incumbent textile dyeing machine manufacturers including Thies, Benninger, and Suntex are also developing dyeing equipment optimized to reduce water use by more efficiently circulating the fluids and controlling or increasing the dyestuff-to-water ratios.
We invested in Defunkify, a Eugene-based safer cleaning products company. Defunkify’s laundry products remove odors 5 times better and eliminate stains up to 80% better than leading detergents, while being safer for people and the natural world. Defunkify worked with toxicologists at University of Oregon to create its patented ProvenSafe™ technology, which they use to test all their ingredients and products for health and environmental safety. The combination of higher performance and safer chemistry has earned Defunkify the 2020 EPA Safer Choice Partner of the Year Award and an A+ rating from the Environmental Working Group.
Ecologic Brands Acquired
Ecologic Brands, a Safer Made portfolio company, was acquired in January by Jabil, a manufacturing services company. Ecologic Brands makes paper bottles used by Seventh Generation, L’Oreal and other leading brands. This acquisition will help bring the Ecologic paper bottle technology to a wider market adoption.
Clean Beauty Connect 2021 is coming on June 28th and 29th. Mia Davis, a Safer Made advisor, and Marty will be speaking.
Air Protein, a company using fermentation to make a meat alternative, raised $32 million.
Anuvia, a developer of crop fertilizer alternatives, raised $103 million.
Azitra and its biotech partners were awarded a $15 million contract from DARPA to develop a skin microbiome-based mosquito repellant for the US Military.
Beam Organics, a direct-to-consumer wellness beverage brand, raised $5 million.
Brightly, a discovery platform for eco-friendly products, raised $1 million.
Everdrop, maker of dissolvable cleaning tablets, raised EUR 18 million.
Evolve BioSystems, a probiotic tech startup aiming to improve infant gut health, raised $55 million.
Grove Collaborative, an online retailer of natural home and personal care products, raised $125 million.
HowGood, a SaaS-based sustainability intelligence platform focused on sustainable food and personal care products, raised $6 million.
Heyday, a skincare brand offering customized facial treatments both online and in stores, raised $20 million.
Madison Reed, a safer hair-color company, raised $52 million.
Mighty Buildings, a homebuilding company using 3D printing, robotics and automation to produce more sustainable and affordable homes, raised $40 million.
MyGlamm, an India-based cruelty-free cosmetics brand backed by Amazon, raised $24 million.
nanoGriptech, creator of bio-mimicry inspired adhesives, raised $6 million.
Nanotech, a material science startup that makes spray-on coatings for both commercial insulation and fireproofing, raised $5 million.
New Wave Foods, a developer of plant-based shrimp, raised $18 million.
Next Gen, developer of a plant-based “chicken” brand, called TiNDLE, raised $10 million.
Oxwash, a green dry-cleaning company using ozone to sterilize fabrics at lower temperatures, raised $1.7 million.
Planted, developer of a vegetarian chicken alternative using pea protein and pea fiber extruded to recreate the fibrous structure of chicken, raised $18 million.
Sunday, a safer lawn care service company, raised $19 million.
Svante, a CO2 marketplace and carbon capture technology provider, raised $75 million.
Too Good To Go, a startup focused on reducing food waste, raised $31 million.
TreeCard, a credit card made out of wood that promises to fund reforesting via the interchange fees generated, raised $5.1 million.
View, a company that makes dynamic glass to reduce heat, glare, and eyestrain, has gone public (NASD: VIEW) through a SPAC. The company raised $1.1. billion from SoftBank Vision Fund in 2018.