November 2019

PFAS

The movie Dark Waters will be released on November 22. Starring Mark Ruffalo as lawyer Rob Bilott the movie chronicles his legal battle with DuPont over the contamination of the Ohio River valley with perfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS) chemicals. We also recommend Rob Bilott’s book.


The movie will raise awareness about PFAS, a class of chemicals receiving renewed attention this year. Sometimes referred to as the “forever chemicals”, PFAS are persistent and bio-accumulative and have been connected to testicular and kidney cancer, ulcerative colitis, and endocrine disruption. PFAS chemicals are used in many products such as food packaging, cooking ware, textiles, dental floss, furniture, carpets, and lubricants. PFAS are also used in firefighting foams and have many industrial applications.


This time around it seems that regulators and advocates are treating the roughly 4,000 PFAS chemicals as a class, rather than focusing on the subset of individual chemicals in this class that have the most data on health impacts. We wholeheartedly agree with the class approach when evaluations chemicals of concern.


Food Packaging - PFAS is used in molded fiber products including packaging paper used in deli, pizza and fast food establishments, and also in single use food service fiber products such as plates, bowls, clamshells, and trays. Biodegradable Products Institute, North America’s leading certifier of compostable food service products will no longer award the compostable certification to products that contain PFAS, as of January 1 2020. Several governments, including Denmark, San Francisco, Berkeley, and the State of Washington are also banning the use of PFAS in food service. Among others, companies like Repurpose (Safer Made portfolio company) and Corumat are working on PFAS-free food service products expected to hit the market early next year.


Firefighting Foams - The Department of Defense has signaled support to phase out the use of PFAS in firefighting aqueous film forming foams, or AFFF, and is inviting research proposals for the development and demonstration of non-fluorine-based firefighting formulations and technologies. The DOD’s requirement that AFFF used at airports have to contain PFAS has been a major contributor to PFAS contamination of ground water. Companies like Fire Rein, Atira and Nu Element are working on PFAS free firefighting solutions.


Drinking Water - Getting the EPA to act on PFAS is one of the few issues with bipartisan support in congress. The recently passed Defense Spending Authorization included key provisions to address PFAS contamination of drinking water including requiring the EPA to list PFAS chemicals as “hazardous substances” under the federal Superfund law. The bill also requires the EPA to revise the list of toxic pollutants under the Clean Water Act to include PFAS, and publish effluent and pretreatment standards. Simple Water has a home test for PFAS in drinking water here.


Consumer Products - The concern about PFAS has created consumer demand for PFAS-free products and many brands and industries are responding, including leaders in apparel, outdoor gear, cosmetics, and home furnishings. One example in the textile and apparel sector is Dimpora, developing a fluorine free breathable water proof membrane, alternative to the dominant polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) membranes sold by Gore Products.


A partial list of PFAS free products with links to their relevant company policy can be found at PFAS Central. If you know of products that should be included, please submit information here.

P2 Science

We’re happy to announce a new addition to our portfolio - P2 Science.


The Company has developed a new class of bio-based liquid polymers called Citropols that can be used to replace cyclic siloxanes like octamethylcyclotetrasiloxane (D4), and its relatives D5, and D6 found in many skin and hair care products. Cyclic siloxanes are persistent in the environment and coming under increased regulatory and consumer scrutiny for potential links to endocrine disruption.


P2 Science has also developed a proprietary ozonolysis process that uses bio derived feedstocks to make a wide range of high-value ingredients for formulated products, offering health and sustainability advantages over existing ingredients.


Formulators at brands large and small are looking for safer ingredients and it looks like P2 has some great solutions.

Financings

Arranta Bio, a contract development and manufacturing organization focused on the microbiome and partnered with Thermo Fisher, raised $82 million.


Citrine, a data platform that analyzes technical data on materials and chemicals to help design better high performance ones, raised $20 million.


DayTwo, a microbiome company with personalized advice to control blood glucose, has raised $5 million.


Future Meat Technologies, a producer of GMO-free lab-grown meat derived from animal cells, raised $14 million.


Ginkgo Bioworks, a synthetic biology foundry, raised $350 million for the Ferment Consortium, a new fund to support Ginkgo spinout companies.


Inne, maker of mini-labs for women to track hormones and fertility, raised €8 million.


TruTag, a maker of edible barcodes for authenticating food and medical products, raised $7.5 million.


Ursa Major, a natural skin care brand, raised $5 million.


Wild Type, an alternative meat company making cultured salmon, raised $12.5 million.


ZitSticka, a two-year-old, New York-based skincare brand, raised $5 million in Series A funding.

Acquisitions

Shiseido acquired skincare startup Drunk Elephant, a clean-beauty brand launched in 2012 for a reported $845M, over 8x reported net revenues of $100M last year.


Also Noted

Greenpeace on reuse vs recycling.

Are you wearing clothes?

Roads paved with plastic.

Sleep clears toxins from our brain.

New federal bill defining ‘natural’ cosmetics.

BlackRock and Credit Suisse launch new funds to support the circular economy.

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