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September 2022

Thank You California

California continues to set policy standards that remove PFAS from consumer goods. If bill AB 1817 is adopted by the Senate in November it will restrict the sale of garments that rely on fluorinated chemistry to provide water and stain repellency. Perfluorinated chemistry is currently used to provide waterproofing, quick-dry, and stain-release performance in a wide range of textiles.

Some brands have already taken action to remove PFAS from their products including Jack Wolfskin and Keen, while others like Black Diamond, Columbia, and Patagonia have launched PFAS-free products and are targeting complete removal in the coming years. The Green Science Policy Institute has been tracking brand and retail announcements on the PFAS Central website.

Safer Made portfolio companies Green Theme Technologies and Dimpora are developing new technologies that replace fluorinated chemistry in apparel. Green Theme Technologies has developed a fabric finishing for durable water repellency without PFAS. Dimpora has developed performant breathable waterproof membranes without PTFE. Both companies are working with leading brands and textile mills.

Ticks, Mosquitoes and Regulatory Updates

One of our portfolio companies, Mimikai, is in the process of registering a personal insect repellent product based on an active ingredient called 2-undecanone. Mimikai’s active ingredient works as well as DEET in repelling mosquitoes and ticks, is less persistent than DEET in the environment, and safer for people. DEET is the active ingredient in about 85% of current insect repellent products.

The active ingredient, 2-undecanone, is currently registered as an insect repellent active with the EPA. We expected a relatively straightforward registration process that would take about a year. We are now 4 years into the process.

We have learned through a series of interactions with agency scientists that various standards and methods for evaluating the safety and efficacy of products have been raised since 2-undecanone was originally approved. Mimikai can meet the new higher standards but lost time clarifying what was needed to register a new product.

We don’t know if DEET based products have to go through similar safety and efficacy re-evaluations every time new products are registered. Raising the regulatory bar on repellent and pesticide products is a good thing, however, if the regulatory hurdles are only raised on new products, the change in policy favors existing products and the companies that sell them. Large companies can afford well-staffed regulatory affairs departments, outside specialized counsel, and the long time it takes to go through the process. For young companies on the other hand, delays or complications in the regulatory process can be difficult to survive.

Mimikai is behind schedule, but has made progress with its registration process. We expect it will be approved this year and we will see Mimikai’s products available on the market, in 2023 in the US, and perhaps even earlier in other countries.

In the News

  • Green Theme Technologies Empel technology certified PFAS-free.

  • P2 announces strategic partnership with Unilever brand Living Proof.

  • Marty on Morgan Stanley’s podcast looking at the sustainability of soap.

  • Adviser Joel Tickner on reinventing the chemical industry.

  • Adviser Arlene Blum on NPR discussing the dangers of PFAS.

  • Safer Made and friends on the future of Environmental Health.

Summer Fun

Picnic without plastic with Repurpose, beat the funk with Defunkify, keep everything clean with Force of Nature, and wash on the go with Nohbo.


Aclarity, a developer of electrochemical oxidation systems for the on-site destruction of contaminants such as PFAS in wastewaters, raised $3.3 million.

Aisti, a building materials startup developing recyclable wood-fiber tiles, raised €1.6 million.

Anuvia, a maker of sustainable field-ready fertilizers, raised $65.5 million.

Atomo Coffee, a natural coffee-like product that uses less water and emits less carbon than traditional coffee, raised $40 million.

Blueland, a company that makes a line of water free concentrated cleaning products, raised $20 million.

Brightseed, an ingredient company that uses machine learning to identify and categorize plant compounds, raised $68 million.

Bucha Bio, a company using bacterial-nanocellulose to make a sustainable leather alternative, raised $800,000.

Chinova Bioworks, a manufacturer of a natural preservative made from white button mushrooms, raised $6 million.

Common Heir, a clean hair and beauty brand, raised $2.5 million.

Conceive, a company developing products to support women's health raised $3.7 million.

Enerkem, a producer of renewable chemicals from waste, raised $255 million.

Epoch Biodesign, a company with an enzymatic process to transform plastic waste into chemicals, raised $11 million.

Exergyn, developer of a solid-state shape memory alloy to replace refrigerants with solid materials, raised $35 million.

Frame Fertility, a reproductive support startup, raised $3 million.

Glacier, a developer of recycling robots, raised $4.5 million.

Good Culture, a maker of alternative dairy products, raised $64 million.

Green Badger, a software developer that serves the green building industry, raised $1.125 million.

Joywell Foods, a company that creates food and drinks using sweet proteins rather than sugar, raised $25 million.

Juno & Co., an eco-friendly skincare brand, raised $6.3 million.

Kencko, a maker of plant-based organic food products like smoothies, raised $10 million.

Lemon Water, a brand of lemon-flavored, sugarless beverage, raised $31 million.

LEKO Labs, a company that has developed wood-based building materials as an alternative to steel and concrete, raised $21 million.

Madison Reed, a better-for-you hair coloring beauty brand, raised $33 million.

Magical Mushroom Company, a sustainable packaging company eliminating polystyrene, raised £3 million, led by Ecovative Design.

Mi Terro, a company that processes agricultural waste into protein based materials used as a plastic replacement, textile fiber, and animal feed, raised $1.5 million.

Moleaer, a company that develops industrial-scale nanobubble generators to aid industrial and wastewater processes, raised $40 million.

The Movement, maker of a lower-impact alternative for acrylic fiber, raised €1 million.

Microbiotica, a developer of bacterial therapies and biomarkers using the human microbiome, raised $67 million.

Natural Fiber Welding, a maker of plant-based textile materials, raised $85 million.

Next Gen Foods, a food company offering a plant-based chicken alternative, raised $100 million.

Novi, a B2B marketplace that enables the discovery and purchasing of sustainable raw materials and ingredients, raised $40 million.

Novoloop, a company that makes chemicals and materials from plastic waste, raised $10 million.

Planet FWD, a software company that helps brands assess and improve their climate impact, raised $10 million.

Plant Baby, a maker of organic plant-based foods, beverages, formulas, and supplements, raised $4 million.

Protix, a manufacturer and supplier of insect ingredients for animal feed and for human consumption, raised €50 million.

Purely Elizabeth, a natural foods company that makes granola, oatmeal, and baking mixes, raised $50 million.

Recover, a company that recycles fiber, raised $100 million.

Red Sea Farms, a startup that uses salt water to grow local produce more sustainably, raised $18.5 million.

Rensair, a maker of air purifiers for businesses, raised $7 million.

Returnity, a maker of reusable shipping and packaging materials, raised $3.1 million.

Revea, a precision skincare company, has raised $6 million.

SolarCycle, a company recycling and reusing solar panels, raised $6.6 million.

Shellworks, maker of petroleum-free, compostable packaging, raised $6.2 million.

Smarter Sorting, a company that helps reuse and recycle chemical products, raised $25 million.

Switch Bioworks, a company creating environmentally safe fertilizers from patented microbes, raised $4.3 million.

TemperPack, a manufacturer of sustainable thermal insulation for cold chain packaging, raised $140 million.

Uni, a maker of refillable care products like shampoo, conditioner, and body serum, raised $4 million.

Upside Foods, (fka Memphis Meats), a company that makes lab-grown meat , raised $400 million.

VitroLabs, a company making lab-grown leather, raised $46 million.

Voyage Foods, a company creating environmentally sustainable food alternatives including peanut butter, coffee, and chocolate, raised $36 million.

Yotta Energy, maker of a modular energy storage system, raised $3.5 million.

Zero, a zero-waste grocery delivery service, raised $11.8 million.

Zero Acre Farms, a developer of fermentation-based vegetable oil alternative, raised $37 million.

IPOs and Acquisitions

Footprint, a manufacturer of custom-molded fiber packaging, announced a $1.6 billion merger with Gores Holdings VIII a special purpose acquisition company to list the company on the NASDAQ.

Grove Collaborative, a brand and online retailer of sustainable consumer packaged goods, merged with Virgin Group Acquisition Corp. II, a special purpose acquisition company sponsored by the Virgin Group, and is now trading on the New York Stock Exchange (GROV).

Mondelez, one of the largest makers of snack products, will buy energy bar maker Clif Bar for $2.9 billion.

Ro, a private online pharmacy, acquired a three-year-old company called Dadi, that sends sperm testing kits, for a reported $100 million. Ro also acquired Modern Fertility, a company that developed home fertility tests, for $225 million.

Supergoop!, a better-for-you brand of skincare products, sold a majority stake to Blackstone.

The Revolution Beauty Group acquired BH Cosmetics, a vegan, cruelty-free cosmetics brand, for $3.9 million.

The Renewal Workshop, a used clothing reseller, has been acquired by Bleckmann, a global logistics provider.

Also Noted

  • Did we already mention California? California bans single-use plastic.

  • Sustainable packaging awards.

  • How business can regenerate the global commons.

  • How to deal with those hard-to-recycle items.


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