October 2017

Pollution Kills

A new study published by The Lancet’s Commission on pollution and health finds that “Pollution is the world’s greatest environmental threat to health. Diseases caused by pollution were responsible for an estimated 9 million premature deaths in 2015—16% of all deaths worldwide—three times more deaths than from AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria combined and 15 times more than from all wars and other forms of violence.” Phil Landrigan, a well-known epidemiologist and pediatrician, and one of the world's leading advocates of children's health led the team of scientists.

The study ties the pollution impacts to measurable economic costs and opportunities. “Until now, people haven’t recognized what an incredible hit pollution makes on the economy of a country” Landrigan says in a Washington Post article. Landrigan also says that “Pollution control is a winnable battle”, and we agree wholeheartedly.

California Labels

California Governor, Jerry Brown, signed the Cleaning Product Right to Know Act which requires all companies selling cleaning products in California to disclose their ingredients.

This makes California the first state to require such disclosures. Some brands have already been disclosing product ingredients on a voluntary basis. The law expands labeling and disclosure requirements to more areas within the cleaning products space including industrial cleaners and specialty cleaners. It also sets labeling standards that address the use of generic terms like ‘fragrance’ that have been used to obscure chemicals of concern. The law passed with support from the consumer packaged goods industry including companies, like SC Johnson, P&G, and Unilever as well as some of their ingredient suppliers, like fragrance house Givaudan. Transparency is becoming the standard for consumer facing businesses. This is good news for consumers and workers. We expect it will accelerate the adoption of available safer ingredients as well as increase the interest and appetite for safer innovations in areas such as preservatives, surfactants, colorants, grease removers, fragrances, builders, and chelating agents.

Walmart Updates Chemicals Policy

Walmart rolls out updates to its chemicals policy expanding their transparency initiative from personal care to cleaning products, adding more chemicals to their watch list, and supporting a number of thirty party certifications including the Chemical Footprint Project, Cradle to Cradle, and EWG Verified. This policy update from the retail giant is just the latest in a series. In 2017 we have also seen new or updated chemical policies from Target , CVS, Costco, Home Depot and Best Buy. Retailers continue to raise the bar for safer chemistry, despite signs of potential regulatory chemical oversight rollbacks.

Portfolio Company News

Safer Made portfolio company Ecologic Brands has been working in partnership with Seed Phytonutrients, a new L'Oréal-backed brand, to launch a custom 250ml eco.bottle that is an integral of the Seed Phytonutrient’s design and marketing campaign. The products will be on the shelves in early 2018.

Financings

Allbirds, a San Francisco-based maker of eco-friendly wool shoes has raised $17.5 million in Series B funding, led by Tiger Global Management. Aunt Fannie’s, a Portland, OR based company that makes probiotic cleaning and pest products, has raised $2.5 million in funding. TIPA Sustainable Packaging, an Israel based developer and manufacturer of bio-based, compostable, flexible packaging, announced it has secured $11M in series B financing. The round was led by Austin and Gabriela Hearst (Hearst Corporation). The Mom’s Co., an India based e-retailer and brand that ships gift boxes with healthy personal care and baby products to households in India, recently raised $1 million in funding. DouxMatok, an Israel based manufacturer of a mineral based food additives that increase the consumer experience of sweetness and other flavors, announced an $8.1 million funding led by led by Pitango. SafeTraces, a Pleasanton, CA based company that makes edible, invisible, odorless, tasteless, FDA-approved barcodes in order to trace fresh or processed foods, pharmaceuticals, and other commodities, has raised $6.5 million in Series A funding. Omidyar Network led the round and was joined by UL Ventures, S2G Ventures, Maumee Ventures, City Light Capital and Tuscan Management. The Honest Company, the consumer products brand focused on safer personal and home care products co-founded by Jessica Alba is raising a new $75 million financing round at a lower valuation than its previous round, but still close to $ 1 billion. More details here. Nanollose, an Australian company developing a plant-free, sustainable alternative to plant-based cellulosic fiber, like cotton, has raised AUD $8.4 million in an IPO on the Australian Securities Exchange. MycoTechnology, a company using mushrooms and fungi to remove bitter tastes from food and drinks, closed its Series B funding on $35 million in a round led by S2G Ventures, Bunge Ventures, and Emerson Collective. Indigo Ag, a Boston-based company using plant microbiome research to create microbial inputs for farmers, has raised $156 million towards its Series D round. Iconic Protein, the Santa Monica based producer of a performance grass-fed protein drink, has raised $8 million and hired KeVita co-founder and former CEO Bill Moses. Vericool, a Livermore, CA based developer of sustainable cold chain packaging, has raised $5 million in funding led by BillerudKorsnäs Venture AB.

Acquisitions

As we mentioned in our September newsflash Method & Ecover was acquired by SC Johnson and Blue Bottle was acquired by Nestle.

Opportunities

The Levi Strauss & Co. Collaboratory is getting together its next group of innovators in the apparel industry to come together and collaborate on social or environmental solutions. Each year, the Collaboratory tackles an important sustainability challenge. Last year, that challenge was water. This year it is climate change.

Also Noted

$3 algae flip flops.

Whole trees nature’s steel.

In Kenya using plastic bags could cost you $40,000 or four years in jail.

One step closer to recycling cotton & polyester blends.

Rhode Island bans flame retardants.

Apparently you can make leather from anything: Nine startups developing alternatives to leather from crop waste. Not to mention one using sugar Modern Meadow and two using fungi: MycoWorks and Ecovative. We may soon say goodbye to animal leather.

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