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June 2021

Pact Packing Beauty

The skin care and cosmetics industry uses an estimated 120 billion packaging items annually - most made with virgin petroleum-based plastic. A small percentage of these are recycled. Our advisor Mia Davis together with a group of industry leaders from Credo Beauty, MOB Beauty, Hudson’s Bay Company, and Element Packaging formed Pact Collective, a recycling program dedicated to the beauty industry. Pact’s mission is to find ways to recycle beauty packaging and stimulate adoption of circular business models in the industry.

50 Ways to Leave Your Plastic

A few of the other innovative approaches to plastic reduction we have come across include:

  • Switching from virgin, petroleum-based plastic to other materials such as fiber, glass, metal, recycled plastic, or bio-based plastic;

  • Mixing bio-based additives in plastic formulations;

  • Reducing packaging weight by improvements in design;

  • Reducing the cost of separation for recycling through improvements in design;

  • Switching to using one type of plastic for all components of an item and / or across different products (mono-material design);

  • Switching to reusable componentry plus refills or dispensing equipment business models;

  • Using concentrated formulations;

  • Changing formulations to waterless formulations (waterless bases, powders, solids) that can be delivered without plastic packaging.

Four of the ten companies we invested in (Ecologic Brands, Repurpose, Force of Nature, and Nohbo) directly reduce single use plastic packaging using one or more of the approaches outlined above. Together they have eliminated over 3,000 metric tons of plastic waste since we made our initial investments.

Dirt to Dirt, or the Compost Way

A particularly difficult case to manage at the end of life is packaging made of plastic films, like produce bags, that are hard to separate for recycling. Packaging that ends up mixed with food waste is also hard to separate. What materials and claims should manufacturers seek for these products?

As we mentioned in one of our previous newsletters we have recently seen standards for biodegradability claims being developed, in addition to the existing standards for compostability claims.

We like the fact that compostable claims imply an intent for a managed end of life. Also, compostability standards require a clear and narrow set of conditions for degradation of materials.

We have concerns that biodegradable claims may be misunderstood, in common use, to imply that it would be ok if waste items deemed bio-degradable end up in the environment.

Biodegradability standards attempt to replicate and measure the way materials are decomposed in different environmental conditions. However, the wide diversity of the natural world conditions makes them hard to replicate in the lab. Tests and standards can provide an indication for how persistent a material might be but provide little information about what may happen to an item in the real world.

Recent Safer Made Investments

We invested in Dimpora, a company that makes breathable, waterproof membranes for outdoors apparel. Dimpora’s membranes are PTFE free alternatives to industry leading Gore-Tex membranes. The company is using a technology licensed from ETH Zürich. Dimpora’s membranes match or surpass the breathability and waterproofness of leading solutions, while being safer, more sustainable, and enabling circular business models. We co-led this seed financing round with High-Tech Gründerfonds, and Closed Loop Ventures.

We also invested in Green Theme Technologies (GTT), a company that develops chemistry and equipment for safer and more sustainable fabric finishing, including: PFAS-free durable water repellent, water free dye process, and metal-free antimicrobial coating chemistry. Early adopters include leading outdoor brands such as Black Diamond. GTT’s fabric finishes are applied without water and avoid the use of chemicals of concern. We worked with lead investor Phoenix Ventures to help catalyze the current funding round.


Bobbie, an organic infant formula startup, has raised $15 million.

Boox, has raised $9.25 million to create reusable shipping boxes.

Ceremonia, a clean hair care brand raised $1 million.

Cider, a China-based on demand fashion brand raised $22 million.

Copper Cow Coffee, a sustainability focused Vietnamese coffee company, raised $8.5 million.

Ever/Body, a personalized cosmetic dermatology provider, has raised $38 million.

Formlabs, a 3D printing company, has raised $150 million.

Gridential Energy, developer of a potentially safer battery, raised $12 million.

Hazel Technologies, producer of shelf-life enhancing sachets, raised $70 million.

Liquid Death, a canned mountain water startup, raised $15 million.

LiquiGlide, a company developing lubricants, raised $13.5 million.

Mielle Organics, a hair care and beauty brand serving women of color, raised $100 million.

Nøie, a company that manufactures custom skincare products has raised $12 million.

Printful, an on-demand print service, has raised $130 million.

Smol, a London-based company that makes sustainable home-care products, raised $34 million.

Terraformation, a company scaling forest restoration projects, has raised $30 million.

Vegamour, a hair wellness brand that sells hair, brow, and eyelash serums, raised $80 million.


Amyris acquired Ecofabulous and Beauty Labs earlier this year, to grow it clean beauty offerings.

Benson Hill, maker of plant-based protein ingredients, announced will be going public at a valuation of about $2 billion.

Ginkgo Bioworks, a biotech company is acquiring Dutch DNA Biotech in an undisclosed cash and stock deal. Dutch DNA Biotech develops and supplies fungal biotechnology processes for the production of enzymes, proteins, and organic acids. Ginkgo Bioworks, is also planning to go public at a valuation of about $17.5 billion.

Unilever has bought Onnit, a food supplement brand. Deal terms were not disclosed.

Oatly, maker of oat-based dairy alternative products, went public at a $10 billion valuation.

The Honest Company, a clean consumer goods company raised $412.8 million through an IPO values the company at $1.44 billion.

The Carlyle Group has taken a majority ownership stake in clean beauty brand BeautyCounter, valuing the company above $1 billion.

Zymergen, a synthetic biology company, raised $500 million in their IPO at a valuation around $3 billion.

Also Noted

  • Lauren Gropper, CEO of Repurpose, on sustainability and entrepreneurship

  • Extended Producer Responsibility for Packaging

  • 21 Sustainable Beauty Innovations for 2021

  • Grove Collaborative in Target

  • Are rubber boots sustainable fashion?

  • Work on PFAS elimination continues with a new law in California, and a lawsuit brought by a Swedish town


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