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September 2017

A Classes Celebration

Please join us for a celebration of a safer chemistry approach championed by Safer Made advisor Arlene Blum at the Sweetwater Café in San Rafael on September 7th. Please register here. Joining the event is free but space is limited and registration is required.

Efforts to remove or limit the use of harmful chemicals often fail because the easier to adopt substitutes are often chemicals cousins of the banned substance, and may also be harmful to living things. Examples are substituting BPA with BPS, PFOA with PHAS, or DCM with Hexane. This swapping of one harmful chemical for another is called regrettable substitution.

One way to avoid regrettable substitutions is to use the class approach, where chemicals in the same class as a known hazardous chemical receive more scrutiny. Arlene and her Green Science Policy Institute have been promoting this approach and recently launched a series of six minute videos that highlight six classes of chemicals that should be avoided in consumer products. Marty joined Arlene, Jen Jackson, and Tom McKeag to kick off the video series with an interactive webinar.

A is for Action

Alison Carlson, the catalyst for the creation of Safer Made and a long term philanthropist in the environmental health space talks about her work to protect human health and the natural world in a recent Inside Philanthropy article and this short video.

Safer Made Updates

On August 9 we made our first investment, in eco.logic Brands. The company makes packaging for liquids and powders using an outer fiber shell and an inner plastic pouch, significantly reducing the use of plastic and increasing the use of recycled paper and cardboard. Founder Julie Corbett is an experienced marketing executive. CEO Greg Rodrigues previously co-founded Insulair (insulated paper cups) acquired by Georgia-Pacific for $170 million.

We also signed a term sheet for Mimikai’s $1.3 million seed investment round. Mimikai is developing a safe and effective natural insect repellent as an alternative to DEET. The company founder, Stephanie Watson, previously founded Bobble, a company sold to Seventh Generation.

We're in Fashion

A recent report by Global Fashion Agenda and Boston Consulting Group entitled Pulse of the Fashion Industry estimates that improvements to the safety and sustainability of garment manufacturing could result in a EUR 160 billion per year gain for the world economy. This market opportunity in concert with the consumer demand for safer chemicals has been driving a wave of circular economy focused innovation highlighted by organizations like Fashion for Good who have been supporting the development of new innovations in textiles.

Some of the biggest opportunities for safer chemistry are waterless dyeing and finishing, textile recycling, supply chain chemicals management, safer performance finishing chemistry, and some of the new materials highlighted below.

New brands like the Yoga apparel company Rumi X have been built around a message of sustainability and focus on designing garments made from non-virgin materials including recycled plastic and food waste.

Eastman Chemical launched a new take on cellulose fibers called Naia that is soft to the touch, twice as breathable as nylon, and can absorb moisture seven times better than polyester.

Vivobarefoot announced a partnership with BLOOM that uses algae biomass to make the world’s first biobased EVA foams. These are the rubbery foams used in both sports and outdoors equipment as well as various industrial application.

There has also been a lot of buzz around new spider silk-like protein based fibers from Bolt Threads and Spiber, with Bolt partnering with Stella McCartney and Spiber launching a new jacket with The North Face.

How do You Find Safer Chemistry?

Brands and designers looking to create safer products are getting some help:

  • ChemSec, a European NGO focused on promoting the use of safer chemicals, has launched a new marketplace to help designers find safer chemicals.

  • The intergovernmental Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has released a set of software tools in its QSAR Toolbox to fill gaps in toxicity data.

  • Millipore-Sigma recently announced the release of DOZN, a green chemistry evaluator that assigns scores based on the 12 principles of green chemistry using public data.

  • A consortium of pharmaceutical companies working through the ACS Green Chemistry Institute has also released an updated version of their solvent and reagent selection guides.


Impossible Foods, a manufacturer of meat and dairy products made without animals closed a $75 million investment led by Temasek Holdings, a national wealth fund owned by Singapore. Other investors include Open Philanthropy Project, Bill Gates, Khosla Ventures and Horizon Ventures.

3Bar Biologics, a Columbus, OH-based company that uses microbes to stimulate plant growth by applying probiotics to seeds potentially reducing the use of artificial fertilizers, has raised $2 million in funding, including from Rev1 Ventures, Maumee Ventures, Ohio TechAngel Funds, Queen City Angels, Carmen Innovations, and SVG Thrive Fund.

AMP Americas, a Chicago-based company that turns cow manure into trucking fuel, has raised $47 million in funding from EIV Capital.

Anellotech, a Texas-based biobased chemical company that converts lignocellulosic biomass into aromatic feedstock chemicals, has raised $800,000 from an undisclosed investor, bringing its funding to $3.2 million since October 2016.

Light Polymers, a San Francisco-based OLED startup that can reduce the use of toxic metals in electronics, has raised $5 million in funding round led by Tsingda International Venture Capital and TEL Venture Capital.

Molekule, a Mountain View, CA-based home air purifier manufacturer, has raised $10.1 million in Series A funding led by Crosslink Capital, with participation from SoftTech VC, Translink Capital, and Foxconn.

Rothy’s, a brand new San Francisco-based e-commerce startup that makes fashionable women's flats from recycled plastic water bottles, has raised just more than $5 million in funding led by Lightspeed Venture Partners.

Winky Lux, a New York-based cosmetics brand that sells cruelty-free & non-toxic cosmetics, has raised $2 million in seed funding led by Female Founders Fund, with participation from BBG Ventures, GGV Capital, SoGal Ventures and TGZ Capital.

NatureWorks is launching a new performance chemicals division to supply renewable sourced lactide-based chemicals under the brand name Vercet for coating food packaging, paper, fiber board, and wood.

Several vertical / indoor farming companies received venture funding including Plenty, Bright Agrotech, and Bowery Farming.

Brandless, a San Francisco-based consumer goods startup using higher standards for ingredients ingredients, raised $35 million in Series B funding from New Enterprise Associates, GV, Redpoint Ventures, Cowboy Ventures, and Slow Ventures.AcquisitionsAmazon bought Wholefoods for $13.7 billion.

German private equity company Elephant Equity bought comingled plastic recycler MBA Polymers.

Research Funding

The Elsevier Foundation Green and Sustainable Chemistry Challenge will support innovative chemistry research that helps the environment and low-resource communities. They are currently accepting proposals that tackle some of the developing world’s greatest sustainability challenges.

Also Noted


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